What a Senate impeachment trial could mean for Trump – and why it might not happen at all

What a Senate impeachment trial could mean for Trump – and why it might not happen at all

The

House
of
Representatives
voted
232-197
Wednesday
to

impeach
President
Trump
for
alleged
“incitement
of
insurrection”
in
connection
with
the
mob
chaos
at
the
Capitol
on
Jan.
6.

Whether
or
not
the
impeachment
results
in
a
conviction,
it
marks
a
historic
moment in
that
no
prior
U.S. president
has
been
impeached
twice.
But
it
also
raises
questions
about
whether
a
trial
can
even
be
held
once
the
president
leaves
office.

The
earliest
the
Senate
could
receive
the
article
of
impeachment
would
be
Jan.
19,
a
day
before
President-elect
Joe
Biden’s
inauguration,
according
to
Republican
Senate
Majority
Leader
Mitch
McConnell
of
Kentucky.
A
trial
could
go
on
for
weeks,
if
it
takes
place
at
all.

TRUMP
IMPEACHED
BY
HOUSE
OVER
CAPITOL
RIOTS,
BECOMES
FIRST
PRESIDENT
TO
FACE
REBUKE
TWICE

J.
Michael
Luttig,
a
judge
for
the
U.S.
Court
of
Appeals
for
the
4th
Circuit
from
1991
to
2006,
argued
in
a

Washington
Post
op-ed
Tuesday
that
a
Senate
trial
after
Trump
has
left
office
would
be
unconstitutional.

But
other
experts disagree and
Senate
leaders
in
both
parties
appear
ready
to
move
forward.
McConnell
sent
memos
to
his
colleagues
explaining
how
the
chamber
might
proceed
after
receiving
articles
of
impeachment
from
the
House,
and
his
Democratic
counterpart
from
New
York,
Minority
Leader
Sen.
Chuck
Schumer,
vowed
that
a
trial
would
be
held.

SENATE
WON’T
RECONVENE
EARLY
TO
START
TRUMP
IMPEACHMENT
TRIAL
BEFORE
TRUMP
LEAVES
OFFICE:
MCCONNELL
SPOKESMAN

“Make
no
mistake,
there
will
be
an
impeachment
trial
in
the
United
States
Senate,”
Schumer said
in
a
statement
Wednesday.
“There
will
be
a
vote
on
convicting
the
president
for
high
crimes
and
misdemeanors;
and
if
the
president
is
convicted,
there
will
be
a
vote
on
barring
him
from
running
again.”

FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020 file photo, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., meet with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

FILE

In
this
Thursday,
Nov.
12,
2020
file
photo,
Speaker
of
the
House
Nancy
Pelosi,
D-Calif.,
and
Senate
Minority
Leader
Chuck
Schumer,
D-N.Y.,
meet
with
reporters
on
Capitol
Hill
in
Washington.
(AP
Photo/J.
Scott
Applewhite,
File)

Seeking
Trump’s
removal
from
office
after
Biden’s
inauguration
appears
to
be
a
moot
point.
But
a
conviction
would
allow
senators
to
then
vote
to
bar
the
outgoing
president
from
running
for
office
again
in
2024
and
curtail
his
post-presidential
benefits. 

MCCONNELL
SAYS
HE
HASN’T
DECIDED
ON
HOW
TO
VOTE
ON
TRUMP
IMPEACHMENT

Other
officials
have
been
impeached
after
leaving
office
in
the
past

but
none
were
presidents.
The
Senate
voted
to
dismiss
some
of
those
cases
on
the
basis
that
the
subjects
were
no
longer
holding
their
positions.

However,
in
an
1876
case,
former
Secretary
of
War
William
Belknap
resigned
just
before
his
impeachment.
The
Senate
held
a
trial
and
acquitted
him
anyway.

There’s
also
a
question
over
who
would
represent
the
president’s
defense
and
whether
taxpayers
would
foot
the
bill
for
Trump’s
legal
fees

which
remains
unclear.
Last
time,
he
was
represented
by
both
White
House
lawyers
and
private
attorneys.
At
least
two
of
the
latter
were
paid
for
by
the
Republican
National
Committee,
according
to
campaign
finance
records.

Even
if
the
Senate
moves
forward
with
a
trial,
it
could
face
legal
and
constitutional
hurdles.

George
Washington
University
law
professor

Jonathan
Turley
argued
Wednesday
that
Trump
would
have
standing
to
challenge
an
impeachment
trial
in
court
if
it
began
after
he
exits
the
office.
As
a
result,
the
trial
could
be
over
before
it
starts.

“It
will
face
a
historic
threshold
challenge
to
Chief
Justice
[John]
Roberts,”
he
said.
“Roberts
must
confirm
that
he
is
presiding
over
a
valid
impeachment
trial.
The
Chief
Justice
does
not
simply
show
up
at
any
proceeding
deemed
an
impeachment
trial.
His
ruling
could
later
be
overturned
by
the
majority
of
the
Senate.”

A
threshold
issue
is
one
that
a
court
needs
to
rule
on
before
it
can
approach
other
aspects
of
a
case.

The
threshold
issue
“is
distinct
from
the
merits
of
the
article
of
impeachment,”
Turley
added. 

He
also
argued
that
Democrats
appeared
to
be
moving
forward
with
a
“snap
impeachment”
too
quickly,
without
a
chance
to
debate
the
language
of
the
articles
or
their
implications.

MCCONNELL
FURIOUS
WITH
TRUMP,
SUPPORTS
MOVE
TO
INITIATE
IMPEACHMENT

“With
the
addition
of
a
possible
trial
after
Trump
leaves
office,
the
rush
to
judgment
could
become
a
parade
of
constitutional
horribles,”
he
said.
“The
use
of
impeachment
to
‘remove’
a
president
who
has
already
left
office
is
ripe
for
challenge
on
the
Senate
floor
and
even
later
in
the
federal
courts.”

A
number
of
senators
from
both
parties,
who
would
serve
as
members
of
a
“High
Court”
in
an
impeachment
trial,
declined
to
comment
for
this
story.

But
McConnell
wrote
in
a
memo
to
colleagues
Wednesday
“there
is
simply
no
chance
a
fair
or
serious
trial
could
conclude
before
President-elect
Biden
is
sworn
in
next
week.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., walks from the Senate floor to his office on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Senate
Majority
Leader
Mitch
McConnell
of
Ky.,
walks
from
the
Senate
floor
to
his
office
on
Capitol
Hill
Wednesday,
Jan.
6,
2021,
in
Washington.
(AP
Photo/Manuel
Balce
Ceneta)

“The
Senate
has
held
three
presidential
impeachment
trials,”
he
continued.
“They
have
lasted
83
days,
37
days,
and
21
days
respectively.
Even
if
the
Senate
process
were
to
begin
this
week
and
move
promptly,
no
final
verdict
would
be
reached
until
after
President
Trump
had
left
office.”

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The
impeachment
push
comes
after
a
chaotic
siege
on
Jan.
6
of
the
U.S.
Capitol,
which
left
at
least
five
people
dead
as
Capitol
Police
ushered
lawmakers
and
the
vice
president
to
safety
moments
before
rioters
crashed
through
the
building.


Fox
News’
Chad
Pergram
contributed
to
this
report.

Michael
Ruiz
is
a
U.S.
and
World
Reporter
for
Fox
News.

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