How will the second “impeachment” work, the impeachment trial to remove Donald Trump? Does the Capitol have time to carry it out, a week after the transfer of powers to Joe Biden?
It is the first time in history that the Congress of the United States Capitol opens a political trial twice against the same president. On the other occasions in which an ‘impeachment’ has been carried out, to Presidents Bill Clinton, Andrew Jackson and Trump himself, the process took months.
Democrats decided to pass the resolution after the invasion of the Capitol last week at the hands of supporters of Donald Trump and after Vice President Mike Pence refused to make use of article 25 of the Constitution that allows him to declare the president unfit for office by assuming his functions.
The text of the impeachment resolution accuses Trump of instigating the assault and could count on the support of various Republican representatives and senators.
The process begins today with the vote of the House of Representatives.
Debate on debate, debate and voting in the House of Representatives
The Chamber meets at 9 a.m. local time (15:00 Central European Time, 14:00 GMT).
The honorable Members first discuss the debate and voting process. The rule establishes a two-hour debate but the representatives can decide to shorten or lengthen it and change the voting process.
Then begins the debate on the resolution of ‘impeachment’ or political trial, which on this occasion consists of a single article entitled “incitement to insurrection.” It will last a minimum of two hours, divided equally between Democrats and Republicans. A representative from each group moderates the debate according to the previously established rules. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has appointed nine representatives to lead the motion.
Some representatives will expose how they feared for their lives during the assault.
In the Republican ranks it is not clear who will lead the debate since they arrive at this impeachment divided. Some representatives could vote in favor of impeachment. Others will remain loyal to Donald Trump regardless.
Then the voting itself will take place. Under normal circumstances it lasts 15 minutes but due to the pandemic it can be lengthened to avoid crowds.
The Senate puzzle
If the House resolution goes forward, President Pelosi must refer it to the Senate. Very likely, thanks to the Democratic majority.
However, the Senate still has a Republican majority until the two senators for Georgia who won in the second round of elections on the same day of the uprising on Capitol Hill are sworn in.
The next meeting of the Senate is not scheduled until January 19, one day before the inauguration.
Democrats are trying to negotiate a meeting before then, but they would need the agreement of the leader of the Republicans in the Senate.
In addition, the Biden Administration does not want the impeachment of Trump to monopolize the start of the mandate, at a time of extreme urgency due to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden tries to negotiate that the session of January 19 be divided between the impeachment of Trump and the confirmation of the positions of his Government and the vote of his first legislative initiatives.
Once the new Senate with a Democratic majority is installed, a new resolution has to be written that determines the rules of impeachment of Trump.
The Senate trial could take place with Trump already out of the White House. Democrats and some Republicans are interested, because it would prevent Donald Trump from running again in the Presidential Election. However, the effect among his numerous followers, especially among the most fanatics, is unknown.