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House Democrats this week drafted a new article of impeachment against Trump, “incitement of insurrection,” after rioters attacked the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6 following weeks of baseless claims by the president that the November 2020 election was stolen from him. The deadly protests prompted congressional calls for what would be a historically unprecedented second impeachment of a U.S. president. Some lawmakers and political pundits have criticized the move because Trump is set to leave the White House in just eight days, but others have inaccurately claimed that a successful Senate vote to convict and remove him would also disqualify him from running again in 2024.
According to U.S. Constitution guidelines and federal law experts, the Senate would have to hold two separate votes in order to legally bar him from pursuing the presidency in four years.
The first Senate vote would require at least a two-thirds majority of sitting senators from all political affiliations—Republicans, Democrats or the two Independents—to convict and remove Trump for the latest House impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection. That first vote to remove him must be successful before a second Senate vote could be had to decide if Trump should be barred from public office in the future.
Despite bringing two impeachment charges against the president in 2019 — Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress — the GOP-majority Senate refused to convict Trump on either one. Utah Senator Mitt Romney cast the lone Republican vote in favor of convicting the president on one of those counts, but neither received the necessary two-thirds majority.
Should the Senate hold a vote to convict Trump on this latest insurrection charge, Democrats — including the two soon-to-be sworn in Georgia senators — still need at least 17 Republicans to join them in ousting the president.
House Democrats this time around say the president meets the Constitution’s Article II Section 4 specification for Trump to be removed from office, with the impeachment charge rising to the vaguely described level of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Democrats gave Vice President Mike Pence an ultimatum Monday that he must either pursue a 25th Amendment removal of Trump or the president will face impeachment charges by the end of the week. Pence, however, did not move on the House resolution to invoke the 25th Amendment, setting up an impeachment vote on Wednesday.
“The president’s threat to America is urgent, and so too will be our action,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cautioned. Biden has reiterated that the decision to impeach Trump for a second time as he assumes office is up to Congress, insisting that his top focus is on a new economic stimulus plan and making repairs to the battered U.S. economy.
Trump would also only lose his post-presidency pension if the House votes to impeach him and then the Senate votes to convict and remove him from office. A House impeachment charge alone does not result in Trump losing any benefits. Additionally, there are no clear rules on how, or even if, Trump could lose lifetime Secret Service protection after he leaves the White House on January 20.