Trump’s impeachment vote set for Wednesday: Update on vote time, what it means, what’s next

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President Trump could be impeached again — here’s what that means.

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On Tuesday, House Democrats laid out the steps Representatives will take to attempt to remove President Donald Trump from office. “We’ve called on him to resign. We’ve called on Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment,” said Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, one of the co-sponsors of the article of impeachment, on MSNBC. “If those two things don’t happen, we have one tool remaining, the only tool of the House: That’s impeachment,” Cicilline said. (Here’s how to watch the House’s impeachment vote live.)

The 25th Amendment looks like it is no longer an option. Despite voting in favor on Tuesday night to formally request Pence remove Trump by invoking the 25th Amendment, the vice president sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a letter before the vote took place, saying he would not. The House intends to consider the article of impeachment when it reconvenes Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET.  The House Judiciary Committee impeachment report was published Tuesday evening.

On Tuesday, Trump responded to the threat of impeachment: “It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said, departing the White House for an event in Texas. “For [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country and it’s causing tremendous anger.”

In its impeachment article, House Democrats formally charge Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the deadly riot at the US Capitol last week, which sought to overturn the 2020 election results confirming Joe Biden as the nation’s next president. The insurrection failed and Biden’s presidency was confirmed by the joint session of Congress. 

Several Republican lawmakers have joined Democrats in calling for Trump’s removal, including Sens. Pat Toomey and Lisa Murkowski, and Rep. Adam Kitzinger.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the President of the United States broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection,” Kitzinger said in a statement tweeted Tuesday night.

Read more14th Amendment enters Trump impeachment conversation. What it is, how it works

The article of impeachment currently has 218 House co-sponsorsPelosi named the impeachment trial managers on Tuesday night: Congressman Jamie Raskin as the lead manager alongside Reps. Diana DeGette, David Cicilline, Joaquin Castro, Eric Swalwell, Ted Lieu, Stacey Plaskett, Joe Neguse and Madeleine Dean.

“I think it is important for people around the country and around the world to see Congress respond swiftly to this attack on our democracy,” Cicilline said.

Hours after the deadly riot on Jan. 6, Trump tweeted, “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!” Twitter blocked the tweet on Friday and permanently banned Trump’s Twitter account. In the tweet, Trump made false claims about the presidential election and suggested that those who stormed the Capitol were “patriots.”


This screenshot of Trump’s tweet was taken before Twitter removed the posting and banned Trump’s account.

Screenshot by CNET

“The President continues to pose a clear and present danger to the people and our Republic,” tweeted Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, who co-authored the article, along with fellow Democratic Reps. Cicilline and Ted Lieu. “He incited an insurrectionist mob to join a ‘wild’ disruption of the peaceful transfer of power at the Capitol. Violence & death followed. He must be removed from office immediately.”

Trump has reportedly considered using his presidential power to attempt to pardon himself, but is not expected to resign. Pence or Biden would not be able to pardon Trump if he were impeached — only if he resigned.

We’ll explain what could happen to Trump if impeached, what the timeline could look like now and where the situation stands. This story has been updated with new information.

Republicans who will vote to impeach

The first Republican House members to announce they will vote to impeach came on Tuesday from House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Rep. John Katko and Rep. Adam Kinzinger

“The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack,” Cheney said in a tweeted statement. “The president could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States.”

“To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko tweeted. “I will vote to impeach this president.”

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell reportedly talked impeachment with Biden on Monday, as he believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and is considering asking Trump to resign.

Trump’s impeachment, 25th Amendment: What happens now?

Two things are happening in unison: House Democrats are formally calling on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, while also planning to vote on Trump’s impeachment if the vice president does not respond within 24 hours of receiving the official request. 

Before the 25th Amendment vote could go through in the House, Pence sent a letter to Pelosi Tuesday evening refusing to invoke the power to remove Trump:

“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution,” Pence said in the letter. “I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time to serious in the life of our nation.”

If the House were to vote in favor of the impeachment article, it would send the indictment to the Senate to trigger Trump’s trial, making him the first president to be impeached twice.

If Trump doesn’t resign — which doesn’t currently appear likely, despite a seeming glitch on the State Department website Monday that suggested his term ends the same evening — the impeachment proceedings are expected to begin before Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. But it is likely the process wouldn’t conclude until after Biden becomes president, since the Senate won’t return to session until Jan. 19, the day before Trump’s presidency is scheduled to end. The Senate could return early, but only if all sitting senators unanimously agree. If one objects, the Senate wouldn’t reconvene early.

Read moreCould Trump pardon himself before leaving office? What to know

Impeachment and the 25th Amendment: How do they differ?

Congress, including Republican Representatives, have also been pushing Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution to remove Trump from office. Unlike impeachment, which is voted on by Congress, the 25th Amendment would require Pence and a majority of Cabinet secretaries to invoke the power. Alternatively, it could also be invoked by the vice president and another body that’s designated by Congress.

To activate the power, Pence and a majority of sitting Cabinet secretaries must decide that the sitting president is unfit for office. Several cabinet members have resigned in the wake of the attack on the Capitol.

What happens if Trump is impeached and then convicted?

If the House votes to impeach this week, it’s essentially indicting the president. The process then moves to the Senate for a trial that’s supervised by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Normally, the conviction of a sitting president at such a trial would result in the president being immediately removed from office. With just days left in office, Trump would likely finish out his term (more on this below) but the Senate can additionally vote to remove the right to run for a second presidential term or for “any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States,” according to the Constitution (Article 1, Section 3). 

A president impeached in the Senate may also be disqualified from the benefits given to former presidents in the Post Presidents Act, including a pension, yearly travel allowance and security detail.

Is it too late to impeach Trump before Biden becomes president?

Yes and no. The impeachment began Monday when House Democrats introduced the article of impeachment, which if approved would trigger a proceeding defined by the Constitution. However, the rarity of impeachment in US history (only two other presidents have been impeached, and one resigned before impeachment), the extraordinary circumstances of the article against Trump and the timing so close to Biden’s inauguration raise some questions as to what could happen next, including a potential Senate impeachment trial that could define the first days of Biden’s presidency. 

The House could also decide to delay sending the indictment to the Senate until after the Biden administration makes headway on Senate approval on Biden’s cabinet nominees and vaccine distribution: Biden has pledged to get 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots into people’s arms in his first 100 days in office.

“We’ll take the vote that we should take in the House, and [Pelosi] will make the determination as [to] when is the best time to move the articles over to the Senate,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina. “If it just so happens that it didn’t go over there for 100 days, let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running, and maybe we’ll send the articles some time after that.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday sent a memo to Senate Republicans outlining how a second Trump trial in the Senate would proceed, pegging Jan. 19 as the first date Trump’s impeachment could come up for discussion, the day the upper chamber’s next session begins.

Biden has said it’s up to Congress to decide whether Trump should be impeached. 

Trump’s White House criticized the move toward impeachment, saying in a statement Friday that this should be “a time for healing and unity.” The White House said, “A politically motivated impeachment against a president with 12 days remaining in his term will only serve to further divide our great country.”

What has to happen in order to impeach a sitting president

A president, along with other officers, can be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” according to Section 4 of Article 2 of the US Constitution. To impeach, a total of 216 votes are required from the House of Representatives — a simple majority plus one. A trial is then heard in the Senate, where the US chief justice presides. A full two-thirds of the 100 senators must vote to convict.

Impeaching a president is typically a lengthy process involving months of inquiries and investigations, but House Democrats intend to speed up proceedings and bring the articles of Impeachment to a floor vote.

Here’s the short version of the general procedure:

  • The House of Representatives votes on levying impeachment charges against Trump.
  • If the article of impeachment is passed by the House, it presents the article to the Senate, which must hold a trial.
  • The House prosecutes, and the Senate sits as jury. The Supreme Court’s chief justice presides. 
  • Trump has an opportunity to present a defense.

Here are some unknowns:

  • Would the Senate agree to reconvene before Jan. 19 for an impeachment trial? (Unlikely, since this can be scuttled by the objection of a single senator; the vote must be unanimous.)
  • Would the impeachment process, if begun before inauguration, continue after Trump is no longer president?
  • Could Trump attempt to pardon himself from all crimes prior to inauguration?

Wasn’t Trump already impeached during his presidential term?

Yes. Trump was impeached in December 2019 by the House. However, the Republican-majority Senate acquitted him at the beginning of 2020, with the process marked by a record number of tweets from Trump disparaging the impeachment effort.

His previous impeachment involved articles accusing Trump of abusing power and obstructing Congress. On that occasion, the issue was Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, including a July 2019 phone call in which he appeared to be using US military aid as a bargaining chip to pressure Ukraine into investigating alleged ties between his political opponent Biden, Biden’s son Hunter, and a Ukrainian gas company. The articles also charged Trump with interfering with a House inquiry into the Ukraine matter.

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CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt and Rae Hodge contributed to this report.

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