By Teresa Zhang
January 19, 2021
This is an ongoing story. Some information presented in this story may be outdated by the time of publication.
Shortly after the insurrection on Wednesday, Jan. 6, amidst outrage from the public and some members of Congress at President Trump’s incitement of and inaction during the storming of the Capitol, Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) wrote the article of impeachment and resolution against Trump. In it, the congressman urged Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment under Section 4, which would declare Trump unfit for office and have Pence serve as President until the end of term on January 20.
What is Impeachment?
Impeachment is a charge of crime brought against a federal official by the House of Representatives. Impeachable offenses are, according to Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, offenses that involve “…Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
However, Government Teacher Rick Robisch says that it is important to know the distinction between impeachment and the legal process, noting that since Congress is the one charging and determining what counts as offenses, the process might be more politically based than legal.
The Impeachment process starts with investigations in the House by the House Judiciary Committee, and if enough evidence is provided, moves to the whole House for a vote. If the vote passes with a simple majority, the impeachment articles (formal charges) move to the Senate for a trial presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. If the official is convicted (requiring a ⅔ supermajority), said official will subsequently be removed from office. A separate vote by the Senate determines if the official can ever hold a federal office again.
What’s Pence’s Response?
Pence has since rejected invoking the 25th amendment, telling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in a letter that “invoking the 25th Amendment in such a manner would set a terrible precedent” and would not be in the best interest of the country to do so.
What is the Democrats’ Response?
Despite Pence’s refusal, the House decided to proceed with the impeachment vote on Wednesday, Jan. 13, resulting in a 232-197 vote for impeaching Trump from all House Democrats and ten House Republicans.
On Jan. 12, Pelosi named the nine House Democrats who will be in charge of managing the impeachment, all of whom are experienced lawyers, including the aforementioned Representative Raskin, Diana DeGette (D-CO), David Cicilline (D-RI), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), Joe Neguse (D-CO), and Madeleine Dean (D-PA).
What is the Republicans’ Response?
Among those ten House Republicans includes House Republican Conference Chair and third most powerful Republican in the House, Liz Cheney (R-WY). Cheney criticised Trump’s leadership in the wake of the insurrection, saying that, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Although Cheney is one of the only Republicans to publicly go against Trump, privately, according to a recent article in the The New York Times, several Senate Republicans, including the most powerful Republican in Congress, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), have expressed their support for the impeachment article, and plan to vote for Trump’s impeachment, although according to that same article, many doubt that the trial will happen before President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
What happens next?
Congress will not reconvene (return to meet) until Tuesday, Jan. 19, but until then, it is unlikely there will be further progress in Trump’s impeachment. But if Trump is found guilty by the Senate, it might hinder the chances of the possibility of Trump running in the 2024 Presidential Election because of the conditions mentioned earlier.