Trump’s impeachment: what is it, will it happen, and what does it mean for future presidents?

By Harriet Piercy

Updated Jan 12, 2021 at 05:14 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes


Donald Trump has been forced into the naughty corner continuously throughout his US presidency, for almost every reason possible, and by almost every person out there in one way or another. With his sore loser attitude to suitably end off 2020, and his refusal to hand over the presidential baton in 2021, he now faces impeachment for the second time, which is a first in presidential history. What does this mean, exactly? And to further ask, what does this particular transition of presidential candidates mean for the future of presidency globally?

What does impeachment mean?

In basic terms, impeachment is when the constitution permits congress to remove a president from their positions before their term is up, only if enough votes count toward that certain president committing treason, bribery or other high crimes. High crimes officially mean an abuse of power by a profilically high public official, such as a president.

The process of impeachment begins with a trial being held in the Senate, and after the trial the Senators vote on whether to convict the president of the alleged crime(s) or not. If there are less than two thirds of the Senate’s vote to convict, the president will remain in office. Alternatively, if two thirds (67 per cent) of the Senate vote to convict, then the vice president will take over the presidency in office.

There have only ever been two US presidents who have faced impeachment: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, however both presidents were ultimately cleared to go ahead and complete their terms in office.

The Trump impeachment

Trump has already faced impeachment back in 2019, for corruptly using levers of government to solicit election assistance from Ukraine in order to dig up damaging information on his 2020 presidential challenger, Joe Biden, as well as his son Hunter. Fast forward a year, where Biden is soon to become the next president of the US, but Trump refuses to pack his bags and fires accusations at a corruption of ballot counting, claiming that he is still rightfully president and should serve another term in power.

On Wednesday 6 January 2021, Trump told thousands of supporters that he will “never concede” the 2020 presidential election and urged them to walk to the Capitol building. At the same time, vice president Mike Pence released a statement in which he said that he didn’t have the authority to decide which electoral college votes are accepted or rejected. Legislators then gathered for a congressional session to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory once and for all.

Meanwhile, the seething red-capped Trump allies reached and broke into the Capitol where the electoral results were being finalised. The extraordinary events that took place that day have led legislators to set course for the impeachment of Trump’s presidency with just days left in his term.

So why would you impeach a president that really isn’t a president anymore? In this case, it’s to make sure that by the time Biden comes to the end of his own presidency in four years time, Trump can’t flare up with another campaign to take on a second term. Another side to Trump’s impeachment, is if he is convicted, he’ll have to kiss his presidential perks goodbye. We’re talking big perks here too, not to mention the pension among them which is set to be $219.000 this year, even if Trump boasts billionaire status.

As far as today stands, congress is inches closer, but not yet decided on subjecting Trump to a second impeachment. Pence is still considering the risks of the president becoming more unstable and volatile with his decisions during the last days of his presidency, but Trump’s past behaviour only suggests that his acting rashly should not come as a surprise. A source close to Pence told CNN that this may be “putting the nation at even greater risk.” According to Mother Jones, regardless of what congress decides, one perk that Trump will get to keep is his Secret Service detail—”lifetime protection, even to presidents removed from office”.

Behind the Trump impeachment

Through all of this however, there are even larger stories to shed light on. One being the glaring question of whether what Trump is claiming is actually true or not. Was the election rigged against his favour? Potentially. Most elections all over the world are in fact manipulated and corrupted, but that is yet to be spoken freely of or analysed properly due to the obvious benefits that corruption initiates for places and people in power.

However in Trump’s case, the result of this election going against his expectations made him raise his voice and that of his political party, therefore drawing attention to figures that potentially otherwise may have been brushed aside for the greater good (of society or power, but that’s another matter).

Following the violent events that took place at Capitol Hill and were incited by the president himself, both in person and online, the American society now faces another enormity that could affect the rest of the world. For the first time ever, the media have banned a head of state, instead of a head of state banning the media.

Trump has been banned permanently off of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, which thus far had been his ranting platform of choice and self-promotion machine. What does this newly accepted power mean for the future of presidencial duty as well as electoral processes?

Trump critics applaud this deplatforming, yet others worry that the moves taken by such tech platforms demonstrate how much political power is in fact built up by just a handful of private companies. The debate lies between the right to freedom of public speech and the breach of that company’s content policies.

These are all consequential realities that the uproar of Trump’s reaction to his loss has brought to light, however, big questions aside, for now two things are certain: Trump has to go for good whether Biden deserves his win or not, and the next political decade has truly awoken it’s next real stage opponent: Big Tech businesses.

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