The House has unveiled the Articles of Impeachment (volume two) against President Trump. The four-page document can be read in its entirety on the congressional website.
The articles state that President Trump “willfully made statements that, in context, encourage - and foreseeably resulted in - lawless action at the Capitol.” Trump’s actions, the document continues, “followed his prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the 2020 presidential election.”
At last count, the impeachment articles have more than 200 co-sponsors in the House. So far, all of the co-sponsors are Democrats, but it is likely that some Republicans would vote for impeachment.
Rep. James Clyburne (D-S.C.) told Fox News Sunday that Democrats plan to pass a resolution urging Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump. If and when Pence refuses to act within 24 hours, Democrats will move to pass the Articles of Impeachment. That could take place by Wednesday, Clyburne noted.
The passage of impeachment is a foregone conclusion in the House, but Trump faces an uncertain future in the Senate where Democrats will have a slim one-vote majority after Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are sworn in. The Constitution requires a vote of “two-thirds of the [Senate] Members present.” If all senators are present, that means 67 votes are needed to remove Donald Trump from office. The Articles of Impeachment also ban Trump from holding office in the future.
A ban on future campaigns for Trump would probably help the Republican Party in the long run, but it would be a difficult vote for many Republicans in the near term. It is extremely unlikely that Trump could win re-election in 2024, but he might well win the Republican nomination, leading the party to another defeat.
Nevertheless, the possibility that the Senate would vote to convict cannot be discounted. So far, Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has said that he is open to impeachment. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have said that they believe that Trump committed impeachable offenses but want the president to resign. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) would probably join the votes to convict, but another 12 votes would have to be scrounged from the remaining 43 Republicans. That number might decrease if some Republicans were not present for the vote.
That’s a tall order, but not impossible, especially if Democrats don’t rush the Senate phase of the process. The Senate is not scheduled to hold a regular session until January 19 so Trump is unlikely to be removed before Biden takes office unless Pence acts.
A memo circulated by Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) states, “It would require the consent of all 100 senators to conduct any business of any kind during the scheduled pro forma sessions prior to January 19, and therefore the consent of all 100 senators to begin acting on any articles of impeachment during those sessions.”
Rep. Clyburne said that the newly Democratic Senate might not act on impeachment until after Biden’s first 100 days. In this scenario, the Senate would not remove Trump from office, but it could bar an attempt at a political comeback.
A delay in the Senate trial could hurt Trump as investigations turn up more damaging information about the president’s role in the attack. After the president leaves office, more Republicans also might break the spell that has left them in Mr. Trump’s thrall for four years.
Donald Trump will be punished for inciting the Capitol insurrection. If he is able to finish his term, he may yet be barred from office in the future. At the very least, it seems certain that Mr. Trump will face an unprecedented second impeachment. That will ensure that his most lasting legacy will be a unique place of shame in American history.