In the US House of Representatives, the debate has begun to depose President Trump because of his role in the storming of the Capitol. It would be the second time in his term and the fourth time in the history of the US that impeachment proceedings against a president should be initiated.
According to the Democrats, last weeks storming is a direct result of Trumps rhetoric and unsubstantiated claims about fraud in the presidential election last November. That is why it is a danger to national security, democracy and the constitution, according to the resolution (pdf) before us.
The House of Representatives, where the Democrats have a majority, will most likely join the deposition without any problems. This is highly uncertain in the Senate, because there is a need for a two-thirds majority. In addition to all the Democratic Senators, at least 17 Republicans must vote in favour.
May take months
Thats not unthinkable. According to American media, support for Trump is crumbling among Republican senators. At least five senators say they support the deposition procedure. Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republicans in the Senate, would also move in that direction, writes the New York Times.
Impeachment explained in five pictures:
The vote in the House of Representatives is expected this evening, but it is still unknown when the Senate will vote on it. That could possibly take months, so after Trumps presidency. In that case, voting for an expulsion will result in Trump being prevented from taking part in new presidential elections.
Lots of surveillance
Yesterday, the Democrats were trying to depose Trump through his vice president Mike Pence. He was asked to invoke the 25th amendment to the Constitution, whereby a majority of the government could remove the President from office. Pence refused because, according to him, Congress should be better engaged in a smooth transition to the new President Biden.
The debate in the House is under strict surveillance. Fearing new disturbances from Trump supporters, barricades have been erected in several places in Washington. Heavy-armed members of the National Guard guard the Capitol. The house of Pence is also highly secured.
Guard members slept in the Capitol last night, saw this CNN journalist:
In addition, Congress will be secured by 15,000 agents in the next few days. Acting Minister of Justice Jeffrey Rosen today warned of possible new disturbances leading up to Joe Bidens inauguration in exactly one week.
Last week, during the storm of the Capitol, five people were killed and dozens injured. The FBI has launched a criminal investigation into over 170 people for involvement in the violence. Justice expects hundreds of people to be sued.
It is the fourth time in history that an American president has been subjected to a deposition procedure. The last time was a year ago, when President Trump was charged for his alleged attempt to put pressure on Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate the then presidential candidate Biden. The procedure was stranded in the Senate.
Also, in the other two impeachment proceedings in American history (against Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999), the necessary two-thirds majority in the Senate was not achieved.
The only president who resigned due to impeachment proceedings was Richard Nixon in 1974, but he held the honour to himself and announced his departure before it had reached a vote in the House of Representatives.