Why you should care about Trump’s second impeachment

By Shannon Garrido, Deputy Opinion Editor

It’s been one month since the House of Representatives introduced articles of impeachment against former President Donald J. Trump for incitement of insurrection. The argument against him? The role he played in encouraging a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

On Feb. 9, the Senate voted to proceed with Trump’s second impeachment trial, making him the first president to ever be impeached twice and the first president to ever be impeached while out of office. 

With COVID-19 a leading cause of death in the U.S. as of last December, another impeachment trial seems like the least of our concerns. After all, Trump is no longer president. However, this impeachment is just as important as the first, maybe even more so.

The impeachment process laid out in the Constitution is simple: the president commits a “High Crime or Misdemeanor,” the House votes to impeach, and the Senate conducts a trial. Despite sounding simple on paper, this impeachment will go down in history for many reasons. 

For one, there is little to no investigation needed to conduct a trial. Because Trump’s called for his followers to “fight like hell” on live television, he committed his crime in broad daylight, the House can impeach at will. Compared to the impeachment proceedings in 2019––which took 86 days––this year’s trial is predicted to only take about a week. 

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Although barring him from office is possible with a second vote, convicting Donald Trump of his crimes is not. It requires the Republican support Democrats simply don’t have, even with the Senate majority. In late January, 45 Republicans voted for Sen. Rand Paul’s motion to dismiss the entire idea of trying a former president as unconstitutional—which is far more than the 34 votes necessary to block conviction. Impeachment requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, and sadly, it doesn’t seem Republicans are ready to band together and convict Trump. 

So what is the penalty for Trump if he’s convicted? There’s the possibility of him being barred from holding public office ever again. Barring him from holding further office would require a second vote by senators, although it would not require a two-thirds agreement. Now that Democrats hold a narrow Senate majority, the possibility is more likely. 

If the Senate does not convict Trump, then there is a possibility he can run for office again. With 53 percent of Republicans willing to vote for him again in four years, according to a January poll by POLITICO/Morning Consult, another “Trump era” seems entirely possible. 

Online betting agencies seem to think that self-pardon is still on the table, and whether that is possible or not, there is little doubt that he will not try. In fact, In 2018, Trump said he had the “absolute right” to pardon himself and has already issued many pardons, including Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. Barring him from ever running for any public office is a consequence of impeachment specifically mentioned in the Constitution and one that would prevent him from ever disrupting our democracy again.

Lastly, there is the possibility that the former president could lose pensions, security, travel allowances, and a raft of other entitlements that are usually guaranteed to former presidents and vice presidents. It’s not certain at this stage exactly which of these benefits  Trump would get to keep and which he wouldn’t. There’s also a chance the Senate could vote to limit Trump’s Secret Service protection, but this issue would likely only come up for debate if Trump is convicted in the first place.

The reason we should care about this impeachment is not that Trump is fun and easy news coverage but because he deserves to be charged for his crimes. Speaking at a rally shortly before thousands of his followers stormed the Capitol, he said, “We fight. We fight like hell. If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Not even a month after the insurrection, more than 70 people have been arrested in connection with the riot at the U.S. Capitol that resulted in five deaths and undermined confidence in American democracy. There are no words that accurately describe the severity of the crimes that occurred in this nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6. Rioters beat Capitol police over the head with flag poles while Congress members removed their badges to hide from insurrectionists. Many truly believed they were going to die and said so as they made phone calls to their loved ones while stuck in a basement. 

These past four years, even these past four months, should be enough to convince anyone that Donald Trump is not fit to hold any political office ever again, let alone the office of the president. Keeping that in mind, it seems that the Democrats in the House and the Senate have stepped up and are determined to finally hold Trump accountable for his actions, even after his presidency has expired. 

 

 

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