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Can Trump be removed from office or banned from politics altogether?

Published : Friday, 15 January, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 121

WASHINGTON, Jan 14: Donald Trump has become the first US president to have been impeached twice on accusations he incited an insurrection at the US Capitol last week.
To impeach means to bring charges in Congress that will form the basis for a trial. It's important to note this is a political process, rather than a criminal one. The US constitution states a president "shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanours".
Now that impeachment charges have been brought to the House and passed in a vote, the case is passed to the Senate, where a two-thirds vote is necessary to convict the president and remove him from office.  It is unclear if Democrats will get those numbers in the Senate, where they only hold half of the seats.
If Trump is convicted by the Senate, lawmakers could hold another vote to block him from running for elected office again - which he has indicated he planned to do in 2024. This could be the biggest consequence of this impeachment.
If he is convicted, a simple majority of senators would be needed to block Trump from holding "any office of honour, trust or profit under the United States". This could be appealing to Republicans hoping to run for president in the future and those who want Trump out of the party.
However, none of this will come during Trump's remaining week in office. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said that there is "no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in" and that it "would best serve the interests of the nation if Congress focused on a safe and orderly transition of power".
There has been talk of Trump losing benefits granted to his predecessors under the 1958 Former Presidents Act, which include a pension and health insurance, and potentially a lifetime security detail at taxpayers' expense. However, Trump will likely keep these benefits if he is convicted after leaving office.
Senior House Democrats have said that the party may choose not to send any articles of impeachment to the Senate until after Biden's first 100 days in office. That would allow  Biden to confirm his new cabinet and kick-start key policies including tackling coronavirus - something that would have to wait if the Senate had already received the impeachment articles.
Could Trump pardon himself? The short answer is we do not know, given the short wording but broad application of the constitution, and the fact there is no precedent for a US leader issuing such a pardon. Media reports, quoting unnamed sources, say Trump has suggested to aides he is considering granting a pardon to himself in the final days of his presidency.
The president already faces numerous investigations, including New York State inquiries into whether he misled tax authorities, banks or business partners. Some legal experts have previously said no, citing an opinion issued by the Justice Department days before Richard Nixon's resignation that he could not pardon himself "under the fundamental rule that no-one may be a judge in his own case". Others though say the constitution does not preclude a self-pardon.
With the president impeached for a second time, now all eyes are on the Senate. The question is whether the required two thirds of the Senate would vote to remove the president. At least 17 Republican senators would have to vote for conviction.  According to the New York Times, as many as 20 Senate Republicans are open to convicting the president, but the timeline of when a trial could be held is not known.    -BBC

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