Former President Trump gets impeached for the second time after Capitol riot

Cindy Rojas, Staff Writer

During the month of January, former President Donald J. Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for a second time on charges of incitement of insurrection. Similar to the first time, the trial in the Senate has resulted in Trump’s acquittal. This move is not without controversy, with some citing that the trial held no significance since it reached the Senate when Trump was out of office and others simply wanting accountability for the former President. Overall, many have questioned the importance of his impeachment and wonder what the difference is between impeachment, resignation, and the 25th amendment.

On January 6, 2021, the United States Capitol was stormed by rioters after former President Trump finished his speech in Washington regarding the opposition to the 2020 U.S. presidential election. His speech further perpetuated the notion that the election was stolen and his words were believed to have encouraged violence in his supporters. Directly after his speech, the events unfolded at the Capitol where the building was vandalized, offices were ransacked, and chaos roamed the streets.

“Knowing that Washington D.C, one of my favorite places, was filled with hatred and rage really made me mad,” said junior Emily Plank. “It holds many of my memories along with the Capitol building. Seeing a mob of people storm it and then to learn that Donald Trump encouraged it made me even madder.”

After the riot, angry outcries from both Republicans and Democrats led to the trial of former President Donald J. Trump for a second time by the House of Representatives in early January of 2021. He was accused of inciting an insurrection against the U.S. government to influence the outcome of the election. 

“There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” claimed Senator Mitch McConnell. “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”

Even though Trump has already been impeached by the House of Representatives, the question that remained for many was the importance of his impeachment since he was out of office.

“I think that it being toward the end of his term didn’t make a lot of sense, but I am glad that he didn’t get away with it completely,” said Plank.

But before knowing what the significance of former President Trump’s impeachment is, it is important to know the process of this governmental function.

When a president becomes impeached, the proceedings must go through both the upper and lower levels of Congress. The House of Representatives must have the majority of votes from their members to impeach a president. Meanwhile, the Senate must have two-thirds of the votes for the removal of a president in office.

The impeachment had to proceed for a couple of reasons,” stated AICE United States history teacher Mr. Salemme. “First, historical precedent. This is to say an attack on the Capitol building and upon its occupants can not be allowed, and the connections of those planned attacks are too closely linked to the POTUS. Secondly, the actions taken by the POTUS are forever measured and remembered by future presidents and, if an election does not go the way a candidate wishes, these actions can not be viewed as permissible. McConnell’s actions were very politically perceptive and were executed in a strategic manner.

Once a president becomes impeached, they are not immediately removed from office until both parts of Congress have made their votes. Even if they have been voted for impeachment, they can only stay in office if the majority of members in the Senate vote against it. 

Impeachment does not mean removal from office, as many think,” informed AP government teacher, John Dalman. “Once impeached, the case moves to the Senate for trial in which all senators are jurors. Those senators decide if the case should be heard and once heard does it rise to the level for removal from office.”

In the case of the former president, the votes were 232-197 for impeachment in the Senate. Out of the Republican party, 10 voted in favor of impeachment, which had been a first for a bipartisan vote. However, the House of Representatives did vote against the removal of President Trump.

“Our job wasn’t to find some way, any way, to inflict a punishment,” said Senator McConnell. “The Senate’s first and foundational duty was to protect the Constitution.” 

Despite Senator McConnell’s earlier statement, he decided to not vote in favor of impeachment against former President Trump. He further explained that he did not side with the former president’s actions, but that was not necessary for punishment. Mike Pence, the former vice president, also decided to reject the call of the 25th amendment against former President Trump.

If former President Trump were to have been impeached and removed from office, this would mean that he would no longer be able to run for office. It also would mean that he would lose the benefits that come along with being a former president, such as pension, staff, office expenses, and Secret Service protection.

This situation has caused people to wonder about the differences between resignation, impeachment, and the 25th amendment. How do they differ from each other? 

Impeachment is known to be one of the Constitution’s biggest penalties against a president that has been found to have committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” In other words, Congress has the ability to take away the president’s position if he is found guilty of his alleged accusations.

On the other hand, resignation is when a president makes the personal decision to renounce their position as president of the United States. 

Meanwhile, the 25th amendment states that the current vice president is able to take the presidential position if the president is either impeached, resigned, or has passed and it allows the president’s cabinet to vote on removal. 

“Former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment was indeed a riveting experience for all Americans,” said senior Kyle Balfour. “I believe that it was necessary as millions believed that the events leading up to the impeachment were not only a threat to national security but a danger to American democracy. Therefore, it was critical for the impeachment to be carried out so that American citizens could know that the federal government recognizes what transpired as a serious issue and affects the reputation of former President Trump.”

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