Former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial is scheduled to begin tomorrow.
The overall impeachment process laid out in the Constitution is relatively simple: President commits “high Crime or Misdemeanor,” House votes to impeach, Senate conducts a trial.
Those overall contours are constant. But there’s no such thing as a routine impeachment.
The one Trump faces now, after inciting a riotous mob to attack the Capitol, is unprecedented in all sorts of ways, which means the process will feel entirely new and different from the one we saw in late 2019 around the Ukraine investigation.
Here’s another look at the impeachment process as it is spelled out in the Constitution and how it applies to this second impeachment of Trump, in which a US President is accused for the first time of inciting violence against another branch of government.
What is Trump accused of doing?
There was a lot of debate during Trump’s first impeachment and trial about whether the pressure he exerted on the President of Ukraine amounted to “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” or simply a set of policies.
This time, while there’s an argument he committed treason, Democrats in the House have alleged Trump “engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”
Read the entire thing here. It’s short.
What does that mean for Trump this time?
Getting from Trump’s misdeed to impeachment proceedings in the House took 86 days in 2019.
It took just a week in 2021.
The House can essentially impeach at will. While there are precedents in place around instigating the impeachment process and utilizing House committees to investigate whether impeachable offenses occurred, none of that is necessarily required. And Democrats, moving quickly, aren’t going to burden themselves by dragging this out.
And why bother with an investigation when this time Trump did it on TV? In that first effort, the details of Trump’s pressure on Ukraine leaked out over the course of weeks and built into Democratic support to launch and conduct an investigation and, ultimately, to impeach him.
Trump’s time in office expired at noon on Jan. 20, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also gave Trump and Vice President Mike Pence the option of avoiding impeachment if either Trump resigned or Pence mobilized the Cabinet to use the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
When those two offramps were ignored, Democrats in the House moved quickly toward impeachment and the first post-presidential impeachment trial in US history.