Donald Trump made history on Wednesday when he became the only president of the United States to be impeached twice.
The United States House of Representatives dismissed Trump for “inciting an insurgency” after a crowd of his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan.6 as Congress met to certify the electoral victory of President-elect Joe Biden.
The political fate of the Republican leader is now in the hands of the U.S. Senate, which will hold an impeachment trial to determine whether Trump should be convicted.
The main open question, however, is when this trial will take place.
The Democratic-controlled House is expected to send the approved article of impeachment to the Senate shortly. Once there, it will become the top priority of this room.
“It will be a preferred stock in addition to all the other stocks,” Steve Clemons of Al Jazeera noted Wednesday. “The Senate, once it meets again, will have no choice but to resume the trial of President Trump – and perhaps even after he is no longer President.”
The Senate is on hold until January 19, the day before Biden is sworn in as the country’s next president.
The office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday it had rejected a request from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to treat the impeachment trial as an emergency and to reconvene the Senate at once.
In a statement after the House vote, McConnell said the Senate would not act until Biden was sworn in.
“Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and unfold quickly, no final verdict would be made until President Trump stepped down. It is not a decision that I am making; it is a fact, ”he said.
Therefore, it seems likely that a Senate trial will take place after Trump leaves – something that has never happened before.
Some experts have argued that the Senate is unable to hold a trial after Trump’s term ends.
“The only power of the Senate under the Constitution is to convict – or not – an incumbent president,” former US Court of Appeals Judge J Michael Luttig recently wrote in the Washington Post.
But others do not agree.
“I understand that as long as the process is started while someone is still in office, it can continue until a conclusion, even if that person leaves office”, Thomas M Keck, professor of political science at Syracuse University, recently told Al Jazeera.
If the Senate proceeds to a trial after Trump leaves the White House, Trump could sue to block the trial, claiming he violates the constitution. This would delay or potentially negate the effort.
The Senate needs a two-thirds majority – 67 out of 100 senators – to convict Trump.
He could then organize a subsequent vote requiring a simple majority – 51 senators – to bar Trump from office in the future.
Alan Fisher of Al Jazeera, who reported to the White House on Wednesday, said Democrats may delay the Senate impeachment trial until Biden’s new administration has had 100 days in office.
This would be aimed “at first allowing Joe Biden to move his agenda forward, but also more crucially to get his cabinet confirmed,” Fisher said.
“They need to be confirmed by the Senate, and that includes all key positions like Secretary of State, Chief of CIA, Chief of Defense.
What does all of this mean for Trump’s political future? It’s always in the air.
Democrats and some Republicans would like to see him removed from office immediately.
This could happen either by resignation – as Richard Nixon did in 1974 when it became clear that he would not survive a Senate impeachment trial – or by the Senate vote to remove him from office.
“I think the best way for our country is for the president to resign and leave as soon as possible,” said Republican Senator Pat Toomey said sunday in an interview with NBC News.
However, everything indicates that Trump will not resign until January 20.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since the riot, he insisted on Tuesday that the speech he gave before the siege on Capitol Hill, which the House quoted in its impeachment article, was “all right. appropriate fact ”.
Congressional Quarterly (CQ) editor-in-chief Shawn Zeller said he believed Trump would try to stay in the spotlight.
“He is never conciliatory, he never apologizes and I think he really intends to stay in the political limelight, to keep as much control of the Republican Party as possible,” Zeller said. at Al Jazeera. “I don’t think he will resign.”
Unless he resigns, Trump’s political future will depend on what the Senate decides.
It’s unclear whether enough Senate Republicans would vote to find Trump guilty of the Senate, which will have a slim Democratic majority after Biden’s inauguration, to gain the required two-thirds support.
But if a movement arises within the GOP to prevent Trump from running for president in 2024, his long-term political future could be sidelined.