Most questions I’ve received through my email have been about criminal consequences for Trump. I promise to get to that. Meanwhile, Articles of Impeachment are circulating. So much for getting any work done today.
Articles of Impeachment
A copy is here.
Trump “willfully made statements that encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in lawless action at the Capitol, injured law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress and the Vice President, interfered with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the election results, and engaged in violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.”
Trump’s conduct “was consistent with prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the results of the 2020 presidential election.”
“Prior efforts” include the call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. In all of this, Trump:
- “gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government”
- “interfered with the peaceful transition of power”
- “imperiled a coordinate branch of government”
Good question. If the House votes on Articles, the Senate will have to reconvene for a trial, or Trump doesn’t get a trial and he gets to just stay impeached. The analogy isn’t really a good one, but impeachment is sort of similar to an indictment, followed by a trial where guilt is determined.
Being impeached without a trial is sort of like being charged with a crime but never going to court. Impeachment requires a majority in the House. Removal, following a trial, requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate.
This is also a good question. In a way, it makes no sense because the real purpose is removal. But a possible “punishment” as a result of the trial is the inability to hold office again. In fact, that’s one of the remedies asked for.
Before the storming of the capital, I didn’t think there would be an impeachment because the process is generally a long one. You need to question witnesses, gather evidence, etc. But in this case, the evidence was on national television (thank you, brave journalists).
The Twenty-Fifth Amendment
To remove a president under the 25th Amendment requires the vice president and a majority of Cabinet members to declare the president unfit. This removes the president for four days. Permanent removal requires a vote from Congress (two thirds from each House) if the president contests it. Given how close we are to the end of Trump’s term, and the fact that McConnell dismissed the Senate until January 19, this could effectively make Pence acting president until the end of Trump’s term.
One outcome, particularly with the threat of the 25th Amendment hanging over Trump, is to actually force his resignation as a way to avoid supreme humiliation. I have never seriously thought anything would get Trump to resign but much has changed.
Certainly, and if one possible outcome is to force his resignation, this would be a good plan. If you want to pressure someone to resign, more pressure is better.
Even more so than being removed from office due to mental incompetence? I’m not a psychologist, but it seems to me that having his own administration go around him on the grounds that he’s mentally incompetent would be the ultimate humiliation.
In the politics of us vs. them, who is “them”? The entire Republican Party plus his own staff? Politically, that is a different situation from the “enemies” being only the liberals and Democrats. His appeal would be to a much narrower segment of the population, those willing to turn on the Republican Party. Obviously, McConnell and many others will not be joining him.
After I wrote the above, Nancy Pelosi made this statement:
My confidence right now is higher that he won’t finish the term, even though I am fully aware of the tall barriers to removal.
There is pressure coming right now from all sides, including Republican governors. States are worried about violence in their government buildings.
And Nancy Pelosi doesn’t bluff.
I suspect some of what is happening behind the scenes is enormous pressure on Trump to resign. I know, I know. I’ve been a loud voice in the “he’ll never resign” camp. A lot has changed since yesterday, including Trump being willing to endanger Pence’s life. Both Pelosi and Pence, the next two people in line to the presidency, were both in the Capitol.
I have a theory about this. “Goodness gracious,” some of you may be thinking. “Does that woman have a theory about everything?”
John Wilkes Booth was stunned by how his assassination of Lincoln was portrayed in the press. (Stick with me here.)
He had spent so much time among like-minded people who hated Lincoln and he had read so many accounts denouncing Lincoln as a tyrant bent on destroying the Constitution and “personal liberty” that he expected to be hailed as a hero.
Instead, he was stunned to learn that he was being hunted down like a beast while Lincoln was held up throughout much of the nation as a martyred saint. Source for this: The bibliography in my book about Lincoln:
I suspect that Rudy, Trump, and the other crazies were so persuaded that millions of Americans were prepared to storm the Capitol and announce Trump the winner of the election that they believed all they had to do was ignite a spark and the rest would take care of itself.
Otherwise, it makes no sense. They didn’t have the manpower to actually take over the Capitol, much less seize the federal government. Stopping the voting actually would do nothing.
I suspect that Trump, watching the coverage, felt a little like Booth.
Yesterday, while shocked and sickened by the sight of those thugs defiling the Capitol, I knew it was a moment for the history books. If anything good comes of this, Trumpism goes back to the fringes.
Photo by Tyler Merbler
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