After the lower chamber, The House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump formally charging him with inciting an insurrection, the ball now goes into the hands of the Senate.
The Senate, the upper chamber will now conduct a trial to determine Trump’s guilt.
A two-thirds majority is needed to convict Trump. If all 100 senators are present for the vote, at least 17 Republicans need to join the Democrats to convict Trump.
The trial cannot begin until after the Senate returns from recess on January 19 as Senate’s Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has rejected Democratic calls for an immediate impeachment trial.
That means the trial will likely begin after Trump leaves office on January 20. The House must formally transmit the charge against Trump to the Senate before the trial can begin.
Trump is likely to argue at trial that his remarks were free speech protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment and that, while he told supporters to “fight,” he did not intend it as a literal call to violence.
Trump released a videotaped statement on Wednesday, shortly after the impeachment vote, saying he condemned last week’s violence.
“Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement,” Trump said.
Impeaching Former Presidents:
Late impeachments are uncommon but it does have a constitutional validity .
Impeachment is used not just to remove officials from office, but also disqualify them from future office. That means there is still a reason to try Trump after he leaves the White House.
The Constitution states that one punishment for conviction is “disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.”
Under Senate precedent, only a simple majority of the Senate is needed for disqualification. Historically, that vote only happens after a conviction. It’s not clear if someone must be convicted to be disqualified.
The Senate can set its own rules for how to conduct an impeachment trial. But under the current rules in effect, a trial would take at least a few days.