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27 Jan 2021 10:28
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  •   Home > News > International

    Donald Trump has been impeached for a second time. What happens next? Can he run again?

    Donald Trump is looking down the barrel of another impeachment trial. But will a conviction happen? Here's what you need to know.

    Donald Trump has officially been impeached for the second time.

    We've got the answers to five quick questions to get you up to speed.

    1. What just happened?

    The US House of Representatives has just voted to impeach Trump for the second time, with the final tally at 232 in favour and 197 against.

    He was charged with "incitement of insurrection" following last week's siege of the US Capitol in Washington.

    And while the Democrats already controlled enough votes to pass the article, what was significant was that 10 Republicans chose to cross the floor (we'll get into who in a second).

    Some Republicans argued Trump didn't actually incite the riot, for a range of reasons (including that he called for peaceful protest on January 6).

    Democrats say Trump is a threat to democracy because he used certain phrases when speaking to his supporters just hours before some stormed the building, including "if you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore."

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: "We know Donald Trump incited an insurrection. He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all know and love."

    2. Who broke ranks?

    Ten Republicans stepped outside party lines and voted against the President.

    They were these representatives:

    • Liz Cheney, the number three Republican in the House of Representatives. She said Trump "summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack"
    • David Valadao, the representative from California said Trump's "inciting rhetoric was un-American, abhorrent, and absolutely an impeachable offense"
    • Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois representative who is a frequent Trump critic. He said it was a "sobering moment" to cross the floor
    • John Katko, who was the first member of the House Republican caucus to say he would impeach
    • Jaime Herrera Beutler, a moderate from Washington state, who said the evidence was "indisputable"
    • Fred Upton, a representative from Michigan who has disputed Trump's election fraud claims
    • Anthony Gonzalez, an Ohio Republican who said on Twitter that the full scope of events "including the President's lack of response as the United States Capitol was under attack" compelled him to support impeachment
    • Tom Rice, who represents a South Carolina district which is strongly pro-Trump. On Twitter he said he'd "backed this President through thick and thin" but this "utter failure" was "inexcusable"
    • Dan Newhouse, who said he would impeach during the debate, drawing applause from Democrats
    • Peter Meijer,a new House member who said he was casting his vote with a "heavy heart" but because he believed that Trump "bears responsibility for inciting the violent acts of insurrection"

    That's the most defections we've ever seen in an impeachment vote. For Trump's first impeachment vote in the house, no Republicans crossed the floor.

    When Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998, five Democrats voted in favour of it.

    3. What does this vote mean?

    Trump is the first President to be impeached twice, making the vote historic.

    But it's not a conviction, and won't remove Trump from office.

    The constitution gives the House of Representatives the power to impeach a president, but conviction requires a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate.

    And with his term ending next week, that makes the timeframe pretty tight.

    He can be convicted after that, but Joe Biden would be president by then.


    4. What happens next?

    Numbers in the Senate mean the Democrats need 17 Republicans to break ranks and vote with them, making it unlikely but not impossible.

    But regardless, it still has to go to the Senate for a hearing.

    When exactly that happens is in the hands of Senate majority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell.

    He's flagged the chamber will start the voting process next week. That will push the process into the opening days of Biden's term.

    Donald Trump has since released a video statement in which he did not address his impeachment directly.

    5. Can he run again?

    If Trump is convicted, he could be prevented from running for the presidency again, or ever holding public office.

    There would have to be two votes, however.

    The second question (banning him from holding office again) likely couldn't happen without the first (convicting him) succeeding.

    Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said that no matter the timing, there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate.

    "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," Schumer said.

    But that conviction has to happen first, so there's still potential for a Trump 2024 ticket. Watch this space.

    © 2021 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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