US President Donald Trump has been impeached a landmark second time this morning, with the House of Representatives effectively voting to put him on trial for allegedly inciting the MAGA dropkicks who invaded the US Capitol last week.
It’s a big deal, even if Trump is technically slated to leave office on January 20. After all, recent events suggest he’s not totally sold on the idea of handing the keys to President-elect Joe Biden.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is going on with the impeachment?
Impeachment is effectively the nuclear options of governmental oversight, a panic switch deployed by pollies when it appears the president has really fucked it. Any government official who is successfully impeached will be booted from their role, and separate proceedings may also bar them from ever seeking public office ever again.
On Thursday morning, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted to launch impeachment proceedings, adopting a motion that alleges Trump “engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanours by inciting violence against the Government of the United States”.
Even some Republicans joined in on the fun, turning their backs on a man who, pretty evidently, should never have been elected in the first place.
All of this is obviously not great news for Trump, who maintains he won the 2020 presidential election.
Notably, this is the second time Trump has been impeached, with the 2019 proceedings, based around his dealings with Ukraine, ultimately failing to turf him from the White House.
This attempt feels a bit different though, even if the process remains largely the same.
What comes next?
Now the House of Representatives has passed the Article of Impeachment, the whole shebang will move to the Senate, where the proceedings will effectively roll out like a trial. The Democrats have already hand-picked nine ‘managers’ who will present evidence against Trump, and senators will effectively act as a jury. If the vote goes Trump’s way, he’s acquitted. If Trump is found guilty, he’s out.
But first, the House must actually send the Article of Impeachment to the Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who you may remember from snippy little memes, is yet to confirm when that’ll happen.
Why? Well, the Democrats face some hurdles: first, the Senate is only slated to return on January 19, which is exactly one day before President-elect Joe Biden‘s inauguration. Not a huge amount of time to conduct a full impeachment trial, there. For reference, the 2019 impeachment trial – just the trial – took nearly three weeks.
“There is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week,” said Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after the House voted to impeach. McConnell also indicated that he’d be unlikely to support an emergency ‘Get The Fuck In Here!’ option to recall the Senate for the trial.
Secondly, despite reports that Republican heavyweights (like McConnell!) quietly back this impeachment, the Senate still has a Republican majority.
That will change after Biden’s inauguration: two new Democratic senators will establish a 50-50 balance, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will serve as the tie-breaker.
But that may not be enough to successfully impeach Trump. Impeachment is a hefty charge with hefty requirements: at least two thirds of the Senate must vote in favour of his conviction. It’s likely the Democrats will take time to regroup and really, really build their case before launching into this one.
What happens if Trump is found guilty after the inauguration?
Democrats wouldn’t be able to gloat about ending Trump’s term early, sure, but he’d still be absolutely fucked. As stated by The Atlantic, it’s unclear who’d defend Trump during the impeachment; without Trump as their dipshit figurehead, Republicans would no longer feel beholden to support him. Picture this, in political form:
Trump might even call up his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, Mr Four Seasons Landscaping himself, for a helping hand. Just take a moment to savour that mental image.
As for the consequences: In addition to bearing the ignominy of impeachment, it’s likely he’d also be stripped of the ability to run for office again. Not great for his 2024 plans, then.
Through official White House social media platforms, Trump today revealed a snivelling video in which he distanced himself from the Capitol siege. Between now and his eventual impeachment trial, feel free to imagine what’s going on in his head right now.