Author: Hannain Osama
Former US President Donald Trump has been globally criticized for his dubious policies since the first time he entered office. Whether it’s concerning the US-Mexico border wall, brusque immigration policies, or inciting violence, Trump’s actions have been reprehended at home and abroad. They have sequentially led to consequences, as being the leader of the free world comes with stoic accountability.
His impeachment, therefore, has been a direct consequence of his brash executive actions. As he becomes the first president in US history to be impeached twice, it is imperative to ask a few questions as to how the situation in one of the leading democracies of the world, got to such a point.
On what grounds can a sitting president be impeached by constitutional means?
233 years ago, when the US founders were forming a government and framing a constitution, they were at an impasse as to what should happen if a president, in Benjamin Franklin’s words, “Has rendered himself obnoxious?”. The policymakers then turned towards a provision of the British common law, called Impeachment, which consisted of ‘Trial, Conviction, Punishment’.
The constitution laid down 3 offenses for which any federal official including the president can be impeached.
. Other high crimes and misdemeanors1
While the latter hasn’t been clearly defined in the constitution, it is thought to include serious offenses against the republic and ruminative breaches of trust.
What is the US capitol siege and how did it happen?
The seeds for the events of January 6th were sown 6 weeks before they actually took place, when Donald Trump refused to accept the electoral results and claimed they were ‘stolen’, while there was no solid evidence that suggested as such. His refusal was followed by alarming remarks made by him in public and on social media, stating that he will be organizing a rally rejecting the poll results, which resultantly kindled a fire within his right-wing extremist supporters.
One of his tweets said,
“The BIG Protest Rally in Washington D.C., will take place at 11A.M. on January 6th. StopTheSteal”
His rally, organized outside the capitol overlapped the ceremony held at the congress certifying his defeat. Only 30 minutes following the end of his speech, the crowd began to march towards the capitol and soon violently overcame the thin line of force that protected the federal building. The pugnacious mob compelled the lawmakers to rush to safety; in their offices and under their seats. The whole event was an ‘Active, Hostile situation’ and ‘Madness’ as reported by Mr. Benedict, who was working with the Capitol Police at GOP headquarters nearby.2 This appalling juncture involved teargas, pipe-bombs, thrashing of media equipment, injuries and loss of 5 lives; including an officer and a rioter.
The surreal nightmare came to an end only after deployment of federal and local police forces along with 1100-men strong D.C National Guard.
Why has Trump been impeached again?
January 6th, one of the darkest days in the United States history, inevitably led to the impeachment of Donald Trump as he became the first president in the US history to be impeached twice when the House of Representatives passed resolution to impeach by 232-197, as 10 members of his party joined with Democrats to charge him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in egging on a violent mob that stormed the Capitol.
Of course, there have been questions surrounding the legality and constitutionality of the impeachment since these events have unfolded as new president-elect Joe Biden gets sworn in.
Impeachment leads to loss of office, so why is Trump being charged if he no longer holds it?
Being leader of the free world comes with a lot of perks even after their term comes to an end; such as health and travel benefits, secret service protection, and eligibility to hold office again provided the former president has only enjoyed the position for a single term.
The United States has long held the title of being the leading democracy in the world; therefore, an attack on the its own capitol building inflamed by words of the president solely because he refused to abide by the will of 81 million of his own citizens, comes with a grave price.
In order to hold the former president accountable for his actions and to disbar him, rightly so, from ever holding office again, the democrats immediately rushed to impeach him even though his days in office were numbered.
As far as the issue pertaining to the constitutionality of impeachment and trial of Donald Trump goes, Senator (D) Chuck Schumer remarked:
“The theory that impeachment of a former official is unconstitutional, is wrong by every frame of context and has been debunked by constitutional scholars from all across the political spectrum.
The constitution states that judgement in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States. If the framers intended impeachment merely to be a vehicle to remove a sitting official; they would not have included additional provisions, ‘disqualification from sitting office’.”
It is obvious that due to his actions, Trump has lost abounding public support and credibility within his own party. As far as his eligibility to hold office again is concerned, the world will only know once his impeachment trial in the Senate comes to an end and a decision is passed regarding his acquittal.
1US Constitution, Article II, Section 4 <https://constitution.congress.gov/browse/essay/artII-S4-1-1/ALDE_00000282/>
2Mark Mazzetti, Helene Cooper, Jennifer Steinhauer, Zolane Kanno-Youngs and Luke Broadwater, 2021