Are Trump impeachment proceedings warranted

Second impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump opened

Washington - After his supporters stormed the Capitol, Donald Trump became the first US president in history to face a second impeachment trial. In addition to all 222 Democrats, ten of Trump's Republicans also voted in the House of Representatives on Wednesday to open a new impeachment process. 197 Republicans voted against it. Trump has to answer in the Senate for "inciting a riot". According to Senate Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell, a ruling in the chamber before Trump's successor Joe Biden is sworn in next Wednesday is ruled out.

In the resolution opening the procedure, Trump is made personally responsible for last week's attack on Congress. Angry Trump supporters broke into the Capitol on Wednesday last week after an inciting speech by the President. At the time, Congress had met there to formally confirm Biden's election victory. Five people were killed in the riots, including a police officer. The unprecedented outbreak of violence in the political center of the United States caused a shock both nationally and abroad.

In the resolution opening the procedure, Trump is described as "a threat to national security, democracy and the constitution". Trump now has to face an impeachment process in the Senate that is similar to a judicial process. A two-thirds majority would be needed in the Senate to ultimately condemn Trump. For that to happen, at least 17 Republican senators would have to side with the Democrats.

It is currently unclear whether this could happen. Trump will automatically leave office with Biden's swearing-in on Wednesday next week. In addition to the impeachment, the resolution also provides that Trump should be banned from future government offices. This would mean that he would not be allowed to run for president in 2024. Therefore the impeachment process would be more than a symbolic step. Leading Democrats had also argued that it was important to set an example to condemn Trump's actions and thus prevent possible similar misconduct by future presidents.

McConnell said on Wednesday: "Even if the Senate process started this week and moved quickly, there would be no final verdict until President Trump left office." He referred to procedural rules and precedents. He said the time for a fair trial was too short. The previous three impeachment proceedings in the Senate had lasted 83, 37 and 21 days, respectively, McConnell said. McConnell said he has no intention of convening the Senate before the scheduled next appointment on Jan. 19.

Individual Republicans in the Senate have already openly opposed Trump, but have not yet agreed to impeachment. The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, told CNN that there might be a political "earthquake" in the Senate that could lead to a majority in favor of impeachment.

Schiff was referring to a report in the New York Times, according to which Mitch McConnell internally indicated that he thought the dismissal was justified. Citing unspecified sources from McConnell's circle, the newspaper wrote that McConnell was glad that the Democrats had initiated an impeachment process. That could make it easier for his party to break away from Trump. In his communication, McConnell did not comment on whether he considered the impeachment procedure to be justified.

At the meeting in the House of Representatives, Chairwoman Nancy Pelosi described Trump as a "danger to the country". The Republican had incited "domestic terrorists" to fight back against his election defeat, she said. "You didn't come out of a vacuum." Trump was guilty of “inciting a riot”. For this he must be held accountable.

Even the Republican minority leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, said: “The president is not without guilt. The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by a riotous mob. " It is wrong, however, to remove him from office in the last days of his term of office with an accelerated procedure. Impeachment of the Republican would further heighten political divisions in the country, he warned.

Trump called for nonviolence before possible new protests on the occasion of Biden's swearing in. "In view of the reports of further demonstrations, I demand that there must be no violence, no violations of the law and no vandalism of any kind," said a Trump statement published by the White House. “That's not what I stand for, and that's not what America stands for. I urge all Americans to relieve tension and calm their hearts. "

According to media reports, the Federal Police FBI warned that there could be new violent protests around the swearing-in of the Democrat. According to the Ministry of Defense, up to 15,000 soldiers of the National Guard have been authorized in the capital to support the other security forces before Biden's inauguration. Washington Police Chief Robert Contee said on Wednesday that he even expected more than 20,000 soldiers to be deployed.

Trump had already endured impeachment proceedings during his tenure - as only the third president in the history of the United States. In the first trial he had to answer in the so-called Russia affair because of the alleged cooperation with Russia in his election. In February 2020, however, he was ultimately acquitted of all charges - with the majority of his Republicans in the chamber. Since then, however, some party colleagues have turned away from him. The riots at the Capitol had sparked outrage among Republican ranks as well.

Trump criticized on Tuesday that the impeachment process was a continuation of a political “witch hunt”. Referring to his speech just before the outbreak of violence, he said, "It has been analyzed and people found what I said was entirely appropriate." At his message on Wednesday, Trump did not mention the new decision. (with dpa)