Trump’s impeachment process to start Monday? Here’s where the situation stands

President Trump could be impeached again — here’s what that means.


Screenshot by Corinne Reichert/CNET

More than 200 members of Congress are calling to remove President Donald Trump from office, either through impeachment or the 25th Amendment, with House Democrats planning to introduce the articles of impeachment Monday according to multiple reports. The condemnation follows a violent insurrection of the US Capitol, when a mob breached the building while seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Trump is widely accused of inciting the crowd to riot for the purpose of interfering with a democratic proceeding. The DOJ does not plan to level incitement charges against Trump or any other speakers at the rally.

The action would remove Trump from power in his final days as president before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20. If the articles of impeachment are initiated, it would mark the second time in his presidency that Trump would face the process — and would make him the first president in history to be impeached twice.

By Friday morning, some forecast that a vote in the House of Representatives could come by the middle of next week

As the situation in Washington develops, we’ll explain the limitations of impeachment, what the timeline would be before Biden is sworn in as president, and where the situation stands now.

Is it too late to impeach Trump before Biden takes office?

Impeachment can be a long process, but if passed by both chambers in Congress, the effects could be long-lasting. Not only would Trump be removed from the presidency, he would also be disqualified from running for a second presidential term, or “any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States,” according to the Constitution (Article 1, Section 3).

When Trump was impeached in December 2019, the entire process took months — from inquiries and investigations beginning in September 2019 to the Senate acquitting him on Feb. 6, 2020. Given the traditionally slow process, it could take too long to impeach Trump and remove him from office prior to the inauguration of Biden on Jan. 20. 

It isn’t clear if impeachment proceedings would continue after Biden’s inauguration, or if Washington, DC or other states would take their own legal action.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York and chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary, said he supports “bringing articles of impeachment directly to the House floor.”

“I am once again urging that the President be impeached and removed from office,” Nadler tweeted Thursday evening. “We have a limited period of time in which to act. The nation cannot afford a lengthy, drawn out process.”

Read more: Facebook blocks Trump indefinitely following Capitol Hill violence

What does it take to impeach a sitting president?

A president, along with other officers, can be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” according to Section 4 of Article 2 of the US Constitution.

To impeach, a total of 216 votes are required from the House of Representatives — a simple majority plus one. A trial is then heard in the Senate, where the US Chief Justice presides. A full two-thirds of the 100 senators must vote to impeach.

If the Senate were to convict Trump, it would not only remove him from the White House as soon as the vote occurred — it would also prevent him from ever being able to run for a second presidential term.

What’s the difference between impeachment and the 25th Amendment?

Congress — including Republican representatives — have also been pushing Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution to remove Trump from office. Unlike impeachment, which is voted by Congress, the 25th Amendment would require Pence and a majority of the sitting Cabinet secretaries to invoke the power. Alternatively, it could also be invoked by the Vice President and another body that’s designated by Congress.

In order to do so, Pence and a majority of sitting Cabinet secretaries must decide a sitting president is unfit for office. Several cabinet members have now resigned.

Pence has reportedly said he will not invoke the 25th Amendment.

“The President of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a press conference Thursday. “In calling for this seditious act, the president has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people. I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the Vice President to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment.”

Read more: 25th Amendment: What it is, how it would remove Trump from power if invoked

Congress certified Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ victory in the 2020 election in the early hours of Thursday after reconvening Wednesday night following their evacuation from the Capitol. Trump later appeared to grudgingly agree to an “orderly transition” of power.

In a video released Thursday evening, Trump reiterated that he’s now working on the transition. “A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20th,” Trump said. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power.”

Why Democrats are pushing impeachment

Pelosi summed up her party’s position: “The President’s dangerous and seditious acts necessitate his immediate removal from office,” she said Thursday.

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted Wednesday afternoon that she was drawing up articles of impeachment, while under evacuation of Congress during the insurrection. “Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate,” Omar tweeted at the time. “We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic.”

By 7:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, more than 20 Democratic members of Congress had joined calls for Trump’s impeachment.

Omar tweeted out the Articles of Impeachment being circulated by the House Democrats just after noon ET Thursday. She is sponsoring the resolution to remove Trump from office, with co-leads Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, Mondaire Jones, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Veronica Escobar, Jamal Bowman, Ted Lieu, Hank Johnson, Al Green and David Cicilline.

In urging Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, Pelosi said Congress may otherwise move forward with impeachment. 

Calling Trump “a complete tool of Putin,” Pelosi said it would be “very dangerous” to allow him to continue in office until the inauguration. “While it’s only 13 days left, any day can be a horror show for America,” she said.

The impeachment now has 131 co-sponsors, according to CNN Friday. Omar tweeted to thank “the hundreds of members” who heard the calls of Americans to impeach. With Pence seemingly reluctant to invoke the 25th Amendment, Pelosi said Friday she will now move on impeachment if Trump doesn’t resign.

The House Democrats are meeting Friday afternoon to discuss impeachment. “Our House Dem Caucus is meeting RIGHT NOW to discuss 25th Amendment, Impeachment, and other immediate actions,” Rep. Jared Huffman tweeted Friday at 3 p.m. ET. “This is an emergency and we are not waiting to act.”

Some Republicans also urge impeachment

Multiple GOP leaders echoed the calls for impeachment, or for Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove Trump from power.

In a video on Twitter during the early hours of the insurrection, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher likened the insurrection to actions seen in so-called “banana republics.” Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, took to the chamber floor in later hours to decry Trump’s encouragement of the mob.

House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney accused the president of “abusing the trust of the people who supported him” while GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas demanded Trump acknowledge his election loss. Former President George W. Bush, the last living Republican president, released a statement calling the violence “sickening.”

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse told CBS News Friday that he would “definitely consider” the impeachment articles if the House votes to impeach.

Despite support from some Republican Congress members, the Senate is currently still a Republican majority. Newly elected Georgian Democratic Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have yet to be sworn in — as has Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who would serve as a tiebreaker if the matter came to that. While Harris will be sworn in as vice president on Jan. 20, Georgia has yet to certify its results, and Congress has already convened without Warnock and Ossoff.

Wasn’t Trump impeached once already?

Yes. Trump was previously impeached in December 2019 by the House. However, the Republican-majority Senate acquitted him at the beginning of 2020 — with the process marked by a record number of tweets from Trump disparaging the impeachment trial.

His previous impeachment involved two articles accusing Trump of abusing power and obstructing Congress. On that occasion, the issue was Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, including a phone call in July 2019 during which he appeared to ask that country to investigate ties between Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and a Ukrainian gas company.

Read more: PayPal and Shopify remove Trump-related accounts, citing policies against supporting violence

CNET’s Rae Hodge and Jessica Dolcourt contributed to this report.





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