House moves to impeach Trump following insurrection at Capitol

Callie Harkins, Staff Writer

House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment on Jan. 11 following the insurrection that took place on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Jan. 6. They took this extraordinary step after Republicans opposed a resolution introduced on Monday that formally called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. If the 25th Amendment were invoked, President Trump would be removed from office and Pence would immediately act as the commander in chief until Jan. 20, when President-elect Joe Biden is to be sworn in as 46th President of the United States. Vice President Pence has stated that he is not willing to invoke the 25th amendment at this time.

The 25th amendment, which was ratified in the winter of 1967 following the Kennedy assination, is designed primarily to be used in the case a President becomes ill, dies or resigns. However, Article IV of the amendment contains a written process through which the Vice President and a majority of Cabinet Members can determine that the sitting President is unable to fulfill the duties of the Office. For this to happen, the VP and more then half of the Cabinet must invoke the amendment and send a letter to Congress declaring the President unfit. Congress must then vote to uphold or deny the request. If two-thirds of both Houses of Congress confirm the action, the President will be removed permanently.

So what is happening? 

On Monday morning, House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment.  President Trump faces one charge: inciting an insurrection. The U.S. Criminal Code (Title 18, section 2383) states that “Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both, and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”  

More simply, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an insurrection is “an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.” This charge comes following the attack on the United States Capitol where rioters equipped with zip ties and metal pipes broke into the halls of the building as well as offices and the Senate chamber.  At least five deaths are directly linked to the insurrection, including the murder of a U.S. Capitol Police Officer.

Trump is being accused of inciting the insurrection because of various tweets sent out between early December and Jan. 6, as well as a rally that ended only a few minutes before protestors took to the Capitol. He encouraged supporters “be there, be wild” and “fight much harder.” 

The House could vote to impeach President Trump as early as Wednesday of this week. If that happens, as it is expected to, President Trump would be the only President in US history to be impeached twice.

Once the Articles of Impeachment pass, the House sends them to the Senate. The Senate then holds a trial to determine if President Trump is guilty of the charge.  Even though President Trump’s term ends at noon on Jan. 20, 2021, he could still be tried by the Senate. If he is found guilty and is already out of office, he would lose his federal retirement, his Secret Service protection, and he would not be able to run for President again in 2024.