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Minggu, 10 Januari 2021

What would impeachment mean for US President Donald Trump? - ABC News

Donald Trump's final days in power are likely to be eventful and historic.

In the wake of Trump supporters rioting at the US Capitol last week, there are calls to remove the President from office.

Should Vice-President Mike Pence not invoke the 25th Amendment to forcefully remove Trump from the top job, the Democrats suggest they will try to quickly impeach the Commander in Chief.

What is Trump likely to be impeached for?

Inciting insurrection.

Mr Trump is accused of inciting his supporters to storm the US Capitol as the Congress was counting electoral votes and were preparing to finalise president-elect Joe Biden's victory.

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Donald Trump vowed to "never concede" before protests erupted.

On Twitter, Mr Trump called the mob "very special" people and he said he loved them.

Five people died, including a Capitol police officer.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Mr Trump needs to be removed from office immediately because of "the danger he still poses".

"The President's dangerous and seditious acts necessitate his immediate removal from office," she says.

She's been putting pressure on Mr Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and has signalled the Democrats are working towards a swift impeachment.

The articles of impeachment are expected to be introduced on Monday, with the House to vote as soon as Wednesday.

An explosion caused by a police munition in front of the US Capitol building during a Trump supporter riot.
Police were unable to stop the violence at the US Capitol Building in Washington last week.(Reuters: Leah Millis)

What does impeachment mean for Trump?

It's history making.

Trump would become the first US president to be impeached twice but it would mean nothing unless he's convicted by the Senate.

And, like all things, there's a process.

First, the House of Representatives needs to vote on the articles of impeachment like it did in 2019 when it formally charged Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of the Congress.

The second step is a trial in the Senate where a two-thirds majority — 67 of 100 senators — need to agree to obtain a conviction.

Last time the numbers were in the President's favour and he was acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.

Donald Trump holds up a bible in front of a church
Donald Trump has not shied away from controversy during his time in office.

Brian Kalt, a constitutional law professor at Michigan State University, says impeachment by the House could "conceivably be done in a day or two".

But he doesn't think there's any possibility of finishing a Senate trial before January 20, Inauguration Day, when Mr Biden will be sworn into office.

"They can still continue after he is gone, but it will be harder to justify it at that point," he says.

There are even some reports the soonest the Senate could begin an impeachment trial would be Inauguration Day.

Professor Kalt says impeachment "won't mean anything" unless Mr Trump gets convicted.

"If he does get convicted, which seems unlikely at the moment, the Senate could choose to disqualify him from future office," he says.

Would Trump be able to run for president again?

Without a conviction from the Senate, the short answer is yes.

However, if Trump is convicted, he might be prevented from running again for the presidency or ever holding public office again.

Could he face criminal charges after leaving office?

Yes.

Trump faces a range of legal threats after leaving the White House.

Reports suggest they cover everything from business dealings to possible obstruction of justice.

"While it is difficult — maybe impossible — to prosecute a sitting president, all bets are off once he is gone," Professor Kalt says.

Trump Tower on 5th Avenue is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City
Trump Tower on 5th Avenue was Donald Trump's business headquarters before he was president.(Reuters: Caitlin Ochs)

Is the self-pardon option still on the table?

Online betting agencies seem to think so. They have been shortening their odds for weeks.

Professor Kalt says the option is still in play.

"It is unclear whether he has the power to do it, but it seems likely he will give it a try," he says.

Trump would be the first president to give the self-pardon a go.

Donald Trump's children (L-R): Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump, celebrate
The President has reportedly discussed issuing pre-emptive pardons for some his children.(Reuters: Brian Snyder)

In 2018, Trump said he had the "absolute right" to pardon himself — a suggestion many constitutional scholars dispute.

The pardon power, which comes from the US constitution, is one of the broadest available to a president.

Pardons are typically given to people who have been prosecuted, and can cover conduct that has not yet resulted in legal proceedings.

Trump has already issued many pardons including for Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Another option — although unlikely — is for Trump to resign and for his vice-president to give him a pardon.

This strategy was famously used by Richard Nixon in 1974 after the Watergate scandal.

Nixon's vice-president Gerald Ford became president and used his powers to grant his predecessor a "full, free, and absolute pardon" for all offences he "committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974".

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2021-01-10 19:03:00Z
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