ORLANDO, Fla. — As state capitols across the U.S. are preparing for the possibility of armed protests after a riot at the Capitol last week, Congress is moving forward trying to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time in his four years in office.
The House is moving forward with one article of impeachment charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection,” for the president’s comments in the weeks and hours leading up to the riot at the Capitol. While impeachment is likely, removal from office is not.
“I think that’s likely the House is just set up to move things along quickly,” University of Central Florida political science professor John Hanley said.
Hanley said the House can pass an article of impeachment with a simple majority, which Democrats have, although some house Republicans have indicated they might be willing to sign on.
In a statement, Central Florida Congresswoman Val Demings, who was a house impeachment manager last year, said, “Vice President Pence should invoke the 25th Amendment and remove President Trump from office. If not, the U.S. House of Representatives is preparing to impeach the president.”
If that happens, Florida’s delegation looks to split on party lines, with Central Florida Republican Michael Waltz writing, “All of this will do nothing but further tear our country apart and embolden our enemies.”
But even if the House votes to impeach, the Senate, where a vote for removal would happen, is not scheduled to be back until Jan. 20, the same day President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in, and President Trump’s term ends.
“Obviously they feel like it’s symbolic, ‘let’s get it done to send a message,’” Hanley said. “Yes, and it might put a little bit of pressure on him to not pardon the people who were involved in Wednesday’s invasion of the capital, or to not take any other options that might be harmful between now and the end of his presidency.”
The Senate could still vote to convict President Trump even after he leaves office. That has happened once before in U.S. history back in 1876, when the Senate held a trial for the former secretary of war even though he had already resigned.