Its too late to remove him from office in any case
By Ricky Browne
Former US President Donald Trump is in the process of making history yet again, as he becomes the first US President to be impeached twice, and the first to face an impeachment trial in the senate after he left office.
The trial is set to begin in the Senate on Tuesday.
“This proceeding is unconstitutional” said Republican Senator Rand Paul. The Trump impeachment is a “partisan farce”, he said, a “sham impeachment”.
It could be constitutional. But it is unlikely that the Senate, which is split down the middle between Republicans and Democrats, will vote to confirm the impeachment delivered by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
So it will be a repeat of Trump’s first impeachment, when the House impeached him and the Senate did not find him guilty.
And it will also be a repeat of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment back in the 1990s when the same basic thing happened.
Admittedly, Clinton’s impeachment boiled down to committing perjury when he tried to deny having sexual relations with his White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Many people thought it was not a serious charge.
The same was true for Trump’s first impeachment – over threatening to hold back aid for the Ukraine if it didn’t investigate Joe Biden.
One year ago, in January 2020, Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for abuse of power and for obstruction of justice, based on the telephone call he had with the Ukrainian president. But the Senate acquitted him.
Republicans didn’t think this was a serious charge, and pointed to the fact that as Vice President Joe Biden had done much the same thing, when he threatened to withhold aid from the Ukraine if it did not remove its prosecutor general – actually boasting about it on camera later.
But this time, the charge seems much more serious than perjury or withholding aid. Trump is accused of trying to topple democracy, having called for his supporters to demonstrate outside the Capitol building on the day that Joe Biden’s election was to be confirmed. Five people were killed during the protest, including a police officer.
The official charge is that Trump incited the deadly attack on the US Capitol on January 6.
Some put it more strongly and say he attempted to incite an insurrection.
Many people call it a failed coup attempt.
On January 6 the whole world watched in amazement as hundreds of Trump supporters walked into the Capitol building in Washington DC and took over.
Some Republican senators agree with the house that this was an impeachable offence.
But others believe that the call for the demonstration was not a call to overthrow the Republic. And they point to the demonstrations that were made during the Black Lives Matter across the United States, where many individuals and private businesses were attacked.
Others say that there is no point in impeaching a President after he has left office, adding that it could be unconstitutional.
Democrats say that it would make no sense for a President to not be impeached for such a terrible crime – and to not therefore be punished. And that if this is not an impeachable crime, what is?
But what sort of punishment is it to be impeached after you have left office?
Democrats say that it would ensure that the former President who is now 74 years old, will not be able to run for President or indeed any political office again.
Ordinarily, it would be thought unlikely that a man who will be 78 years old for the next election in 2024, would be able to run for President.
But that is precisely what Joe Biden did – well he was 77 at the time of the election, and is 78 now. And he won. The oldest man to ever win a US Presidential election.
So the fear on the Democrats end is that Trump at the age of 78 could run and beat a Democrat candidate – possibly even an 81-year-old Biden — if he was allowed to. Particularly as Trump got 74 million votes in the 2020 election – more than any previous President ever received. It was a record – but the bigger record was the 82 million votes that Joe Biden won.
Realistically, even with his great support, it seems unlikely that Trump could ever run for President again. And less chance that he could actually win. Especially after that out-of-control demonstration outside and inside the Capitol building on January 6.
Some may think that if Trump broke the law by calling for his supporters to demonstrate outside the Capitol, that he should be charged and face trial in the courts.
Some may think that this impeachment, apart from putting Trump in the history books, seems to have limited value. And some believe that it is unconstitutional given that Trump is no longer President.
What makes this impeachment trial even more unusual is that the members of the senate were in the Congress when Trump’s supporters attacked the building – and many of them thought their lives were endangered. The Vice President had to be taken away to safety as his life was threatened.
It is estimated that if all the Democrat senators support impeachment, it would require at least 17 Republican senators to agree. That is considered unlikely to the extreme.
So once again, impeachment will prove to have been a pretty pointless exercise. The worst thing that could happen to a President who is impeached is that he (or she) is removed from office. That is no threat to a President who has already left office.
The end result is that the presumed power of impeachment over a President will have been diluted again – and future Presidents may not worry over such a threat, except for how it will portray them in the history books.