President Donald Trump became the first U.S. president to be impeached by the House twice, but without action from the Senate, that might not prevent him from running for election again in four years.
With the Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops inside and out, the House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump Wednesday. The proceedings moved at lightning speed, with lawmakers voting just one week after violent pro-Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol after the president’s calls for them to “fight like hell” against the election results.
Being formally impeached by a majority of Congress is only the first step in the impeachment process.
The U.S. House of Representatives begins the impeachment process by officially bringing charges against someone, University of Miami Law professor Carolina Mala Corbin said. In this case, Trump faced a single charge, “incitement of insurrection.” He is accused of encouraging a mob of loyalists to storm the Capitol follow his speech at a pro-Trump rally on the National Mall.
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Impeachment in the House alone would not prevent Trump from seeking elected office again.
The Senate will next hold a trial and vote whether or not to convict. This process can run even after Trump leaves the White House.
“Even if the clock runs out, even if the Senate does not finish its trial before his term ends, it is still worth pursuing the impeachment process because the Senate can also vote to disqualify him from future federal offices as written in the Constitution,” Corbin said.
The soonest Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would start an impeachment trial is next Tuesday, the day before Trump is already set to leave the White House, McConnell’s office said. The legislation is also intended to prevent Trump from ever running again.
McConnell suggested in a statement that Trump’s Senate trial will not start before Jan. 19, the day before Democrat Joe Biden is inaugurated as president and about the time Democrats take over majority control of the Senate.
“There is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial” could end before Biden takes office, McConnell wrote. He said it will “best serve our nation” if the government spends the coming week “completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power.”
McConnell has not said how he will vote on impeachment.
If the Senate once again votes to acquit the president of all charges, News 6 political analyst and University of Central Florida history professor Jim Clark said Trump could run for president again in 2024.
“It’s up to the Senate if he can’t run again,” Clark said.
If he is acquitted, Clark said Trump’s second impeachment in the House might not deter his loyal followers from voting for him if he were to run again.
“He still has a tremendous following,” Clark said.