On January 6, supporters of President Trump violently stormed the Capitol, resulting in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police Officer, and the resignation of two White House officials. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, January 12, Vice President Mike Pence refused to invoke the 25th amendment and begin the process of declaring President Trump unfit to serve. In response, the House of Representatives presented an article of impeachment accusing the President of incitement of insurrection. They voted Wednesday in favor of impeachment by a margin of 232-197, with 10 House Republicans joining all House Democrats in the most bipartisan impeachment vote in US history. This vote makes President Trump the first President in US history to be impeached twice. The next step in the impeachment process is to hold an impeachment trial in the Senate, where deliberation on whether or not to convict the President will take place. Currently, the Senate is on recess until January 19, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused calls by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to reconvene immediately. This means the impeachment trial will almost certainly commence largely after President-elect Joe Biden has been sworn in.
Though it may seem odd to impeach a president during the last week of their term, the House has clear reasons why they elect to impeach. If convicted, the Senate may elect to bar Trump from holding office again, squashing any ambitions for a 2024 presidential bid. Trump may additionally be stripped of his post-presidential salary, including travel budget and office staff.
With less than a week remaining in President Trump’s term, many members of Congress opposed to conviction in the belief that they see the effort as too divisive to be worth pursuing. On the other side of the issue, those in favor of conviction express their belief that, regardless of how long President Trump has to remain in office, the actions taken by the President so threaten our democracy that to not hold him accountable would be a dereliction of duty. They additionally fear that failure to impose severe consequences now, will leave the door open for incitement of insurrection by future Presidents.