It was never going to be a peaceful voyage into the sunset for Trump’s Presidential term. The fireworks have started (if they ever stopped) and with less than a week until Biden’s inauguration, the chaos is set to continue.
Yesterday, the US House of Representatives impeached Donald Trump after finding him responsible for inciting the deadly riot at the Capitol last week. It comes after Trump was impeached in 2019 over allegations he had improperly pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate his then-rival, now President-elect, Joe Biden.
Impeachment is laid out in the US Constitution and occurs when a President commits treason, bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanours. Usually, the House then votes on whether to impeach, followed by a trial in the Senate. The Senate trial will occur when Trump is out of office but may take several weeks or months before it concludes as Biden will be asking the Senate to vote on his Cabinet nominees and undoubtedly act on legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, it will take 17 Republicans voting with Democrats to reach a two-thirds majority and convict Trump.
Ultimately, this impeachment case isn’t crucial and could be a significant distraction as Biden tries to re-build America and begin his term as President. However, there are two critical issues for Trump, even though he won’t be President when the trial takes place. Firstly, a conviction could mean that he can’t run for office again in 2024, which seems like a possibility considering his support by the Republican party and supporters. Secondly, and most controversially, it could impact his ability to pardon himself. In the American Constitution, presidents have the power to grant reprieves or pardons for offences and Trump is widely thought to be considering a self-pardon, to inoculate himself from future legal proceedings relating to his time running and in office.
Those are the two consequences for Trump if he is convicted, which is far from a certainty. This process will now continue in the Senate, and we will keep talking about Trump for weeks, months, and probably years after his time as President expires. However, we won’t be able to hear as much from Trump himself.
Twitter decided to permanently ban Trump from its platform due to the risk of further incitement of violence. Trump had been warned for months over tweets containing incorrect statistics and information and his latest stream of tweets urging his supporters to “stop the steal”, “fight much harder” and “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore”. These tweets were the last straw for Twitter in what has been a constant battle between the two sides since the election campaign began early last year.
For now, I look forward to the inauguration of Biden and seek to block out Trump in whatever way I can. The world isn’t going to change on the 20th of January, but the handover will be conclusive. Joe Biden will be President, and all the responsibility rests on his shoulders. His words and actions in the first month of his Presidency will make or break his term and make or break America.
Who knows what the last week of the Trump Presidency will look like? But at this point, I don’t think anything will surprise me.