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Trump impeachment: What happens next? Will he leave office immediately?

Written by corres2

US President Donald Trump was impeached by US House of Representatives on Thursday (Indian time). With this Trump has become first US President to suffer impeachment twice.  Former US presidents Andrew Jackson and Bill Clinton were impeached during their time. But what does Trump’s impeachment mean? Will he be forced to leave the Oval Office immediately? Let’s check this thing.

The process

When US House of Representatives impeaches the president, the impeachment article is sent to US Senate. It is here that the actual trial of the president takes place. The US Senate is tasked with finding the president guilty – or otherwise- of the charges levelled against him. 

Once the impeachment article is sent to US Senate, it becomes its top priority when it reconvenes. In the present case, the words ‘when it reconvenes’ hold the sway as US Senate is in recess. It will only reconvene on January 19, just a day before Joe Biden is to be inaugurated.

 

US House of Representatives (the one that impeached Trump) is controlled by Democratic Party while Republicans have control over US Senate right now. Republican Party’s Majority Leader in Senate Mitch McConnell has already rejected Democratic Party’s demand to reconvene immediately.

This means that the Senate is most likely to tackle the issue of impeachment only after Biden takes office. This may lead to several situations.

There is a difference of opinion among legal scholars about whether Senate can process impeachment of a president who is out of office. Some say it can’t be done while others assert it is possible. However, Trump may have legal options with which he can attempt to get involved or potentially even stop the proceedings using loopholes and interpretation of the law.

Also Read | Along with Trump impeachment, Biden urges US Senate to consider ‘other urgent business’

And after all this, if it comes to the final stages in Senate, it will need affirmation of 67 out of 100 Senators for the house to declare Trump guilty. Even after wins in Georgia, Democratic Party holds a wafer-thin majority in Senate.

There is always the possibility of Republican Senators breaking party lines to vote in favour of impeachment as some Republican members in House of Representatives did, it appears a long game as of now.

However, in any case, suffering impeachment, guilty or not, is a huge political blot. And Donald Trump has suffered this fate twice.

All in all, it appears unlikely at the moment that impeachment proceedings would force Trump to leave office before his term ends.


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