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The New York Times

Why is Trump on trial now? We explain how the president’s second impeachment trial will be

With only a week left in his term, the House of Representatives approved another impeachment against President Trump, but he will likely step down before he is tried in the Senate. This is how the process works. WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, the House of Representatives impeached President Trump for the second time, an unprecedented event in American history. A week after he incited a mob of sympathizers who stormed the Capitol – as Congress met to formalize the victory of President-elect Joseph Biden – he was charged with “inciting insurrection.” Democrats moved quickly to impeach Trump after the assault that came after he told supporters, at a rally near the National Mall, to march on Capitol Hill to try to get Republicans to overturn his defeat. At least five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died during the siege or in the hours afterward. The deliberations are proceeding with extraordinary speed and will test the limits of the impeachment process, raising questions never before contemplated. This is what we know. Impeachment is one of the most serious penalties in the Constitution Impeachment is one of the most important tools the Constitution gives Congress to hold government officials, including the president, accountable for violations such as misconduct and abuse power. The members of the House of Representatives are in charge of determining the possibility of impeaching the president, the equivalent of the indictment of a criminal case, and the members of the Senate decide whether to remove him, holding a trial in which the senators act as a jury. As established by the Constitution, the process must prove whether the president has committed “treason, bribery or other serious crimes and misdemeanors.” In the Chamber, only a simple majority of legislators is required to determine that the president, in effect, has committed serious crimes and misdemeanors; but in the Senate the vote must reach a two-thirds majority. “Incitement to insurrection” is the accusation against Trump The article, written by representatives David Cicilline for Rhode Island, Ted Lieu for California, Jamie Raskin for Maryland and Jerrold Nadler for New York, accuses Trump of “incitement to insurrection” and says he is guilty of “inciting violence against the government” of the United States. ” The article cites Trump’s weeklong campaign to falsely discredit the November election results and directly quotes the speech he made on the day of the siege in which he told his supporters to go to the Capitol. “If you don’t fight like hell,” he said, “you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Proponents of the process say impeachment is worth it, despite Trump having only a few days left in office.Although the House moved remarkably quickly to impeach Trump, the Senate trial to determine his impeachment cannot begin until January 19, his last day in office. That means any sentence is almost certainly not going to be completed until after you leave the White House. Democrats have argued that Trump’s offense – using his power as the nation’s leader and commander-in-chief to incite an insurrection against the legislature – is so serious that it must be addressed, even if only a few days remain in his term. Leaving him unpunished, Democrats argue, would set a dangerous precedent of impunity for future presidents. During the debate, Steny H. Hoyer, Democratic Representative from Maryland and Majority Leader, asked, “Time running out?” “Yes. But it is never too late to do the right thing. ” Republicans, many of whom voted to overturn the election results, have asserted that conducting an impeachment process in the aftermath of Trump’s term will foster unnecessary division and that the country should overcome last week’s assault. For Trump, the biggest consequence could be being disqualified from holding public office again. Conviction in impeachment would not automatically disqualify Trump from running for future public office. But, if the Senate condemns him, the Constitution allows a subsequent vote to prevent the official from occupying “any position of honor, trust or profit in the United States.” That vote only requires a simple majority of senators. That possibility could be an attractive prospect for Democrats, and also for many Republicans running for president or convinced that this is the only thing that will remove Trump from their party. Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky senator and Republican leader, is said to share the latter view. However, there is no precedent for disqualifying a president from future office and the case could be brought before the Supreme Court. The Senate trial will most likely begin after Biden becomes president Democrats, who control the House because they are a majority, can choose when to send their impeachment proposal to the Senate, at which point that chamber would have to act. immediately to begin the process. But since the Senate’s schedule states that the next regular session will take place on January 19, even if the House immediately sent the proposal to the other side of the Capitol, an agreement between the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate would be needed to address it before that date. . On Wednesday, McConnell said he would not agree to do so, meaning that the proceedings could not continue until the day before Biden’s inauguration. Since it takes time for the Senate to set the rules for an impeachment, the trial will most likely begin after Biden is president and the Democrats have operational control of the Senate. The Senate will be busy with the trial during Biden’s first days in office. When the Senate receives the charge of the impeachment, it will need to address the matter immediately because the articles of impeachment carry the utmost urgency. Under the rules in force for decades, the indictment is the only issue that the Senate can analyze while a trial is underway, so it will not be possible to work on other legislative matters. But Biden asked McConnell if it is possible to alter that rule to allow the Senate to impeach Trump while his cabinet nominees are analyzed, so that the sessions can be divided between both issues. McConnell told Biden that he will consult with the Senate MP about that possibility. If that’s not possible, House Democrats could choose to withhold the proposal so Biden has time to get his team’s confirmation before the trial begins. The Senate could prosecute Trump even if he left office, yet there is no precedent for that. Aside from Trump, only two presidents have been tried: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, both of whom were acquitted and completed their terms in office. Nicholas Fandos contributed to this report. Catie Edmondson is a reporter in the Washington bureau, covering the US Congress. @CatieEdmondson This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

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