Second impeachment trial against Donald Trump

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Second impeachment trial against Donald Trump
Accused Donald Trump
( President of the United States )
Head of proceedings
( House of Representatives )
Jamie Raskin
(deputy from the state of Maryland )
Investigation started on January 6, 2021
Charged on January 13, 2021
Submitted to the Senate on January 25, 2021
Senate proceedings February 9-13, 2021
(specific occasion)
Storm the Capitol in Washington 2021
Charges Incitement to rebellion (against the US state)
output 57 senators vote "guilty", 43 senators vote "not guilty".
Result: acquittal

The second impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump were opened by the US House of Representatives for incitement to riot after right-wing extremists of the 45th US president forcibly stormed the Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021 . The Senate declared Trump guilty on February 13, 2021 by 57 to 43 votes, but since the two-thirds majority required for a conviction did not come about, the process ended with an acquittal.

The indictment had accused Donald Trump of asking participants in a demonstration to attack Congress and then taking no action to protect the US Parliament. Its two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives, met on that day to officially certify the victory of his rival Joe Biden in the previous presidential election . The process was pushed forward by the Democratic MPs after Vice President Mike Pence refused to have Trump incapacitated and removed under the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution immediately after the Capitol storming . On January 13, 2021, the House of Representatives approved the opening of the process, which took place from February 9 to 13 before the Senate, with 232 votes to 197. As the loser in the election, Trump had already left office on January 20, but a subsequent impeachment would have had serious legal consequences for Trump.

A year earlier, the first impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump for abuse of power had failed. This makes him the first head of state in US history to face impeachment for the second time .


Participants in the storm in front of the Capitol in Washington

On January 6, 2021, under the United States Constitution, the House of Representatives and the Senate met in the Capitol in Washington DC . The task of Congress on that day was to formally confirm the Electoral College's vote and thus the victory of Democrat Joe Biden in the November 2020 presidential election.

Trump, who had claimed to be the victim of large-scale Democratic electoral fraud since November without producing evidence, had called his supporters together for a so-called Save America March that day . Two weeks before the constitutional end of his term in office, he appeared in front of thousands of his followers in Washington's Ellipse Park with his sons, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other supporters. In his address, he urged them to move to the Capitol to prevent the constitutional procedure in Congress.

While Trump withdrew to the White House , his supporters marched to the Capitol. The protest escalated when the protesters removed security barriers and entered the building at around 2 p.m. The sessions had to be interrupted and the two chambers of parliament evacuated. Some of the demonstrators moved through some corridors and broke into the Senate Chamber. Some invaded offices, like that of the House Democratic majority leader Nancy Pelosi . Outside the Capitol, demonstrators destroyed the equipment of television crews and occasionally attacked journalists. According to the United States Capitol Police , the National Guard also advanced after a while , not on the orders of Trump, but on that of Vice President Mike Pence , who was in the beleaguered building as Chairman of the Senate. A total of five people died in the riot: the police officer Brian Sicknick and four rioters.

Proposals for the removal of Trump

On the very day of the event, voices were raised from both major parties calling for Trump to be removed from office as quickly as possible. The US Constitution provides various options for this.

14. Amendment to the Constitution

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment says that anyone who has sworn to protect the United States' Constitution and still participates in an uprising against the United States may be removed from office. Despite the support of some Democrats, its application to President Trump was considered very unlikely. She would have made Vice President Mike Pence the rightful successor to Trump until Joe Biden's inauguration. It would have been the first application of the article since 1919, when Victor L. Berger was prevented from taking a seat in the House for his violation of the Espionage Act . If convicted, Trump would not have been able to hold any official office in the United States.

25. Amendment to the Constitution

Many Democrats and some Republicans would have preferred to proceed under the 25th Amendment to a second impeachment . This enables a president to be removed from office by a majority vote of the cabinet and the vice-president due to permanent inability to fulfill his duties. Usually health reasons come into consideration, the incapacity can also be justified differently. Even after this procedure, which could have been implemented fastest, Pence would have become temporarily president. Indeed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the Vice President to take this step. However, he already refused to talk about it. Finally, on Jan. 11, the Democrats gave Pence a 24-hour ultimatum. On January 12th, he rejected the application of the amendment in writing on the grounds that it was not in the nation's interest and would set a "terrible precedent."

Renewed removal proceedings

Even during the riots, politicians made serious allegations against the president. Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted the word "impeach" on Twitter . Her colleague Ilhan Omar began work on the charges against Trump, the Articles of Impeachment, during the unrest. She later shared part of her letter on Twitter that also included Cortez, Hank Johnson , Ayanna Pressley , Rashida Tlaib , Mondaire Jones , Veronica Escobar , Cori Bush , David Cicilline and Ted Lieu . Cicilline and Lieu built together with the deputies of the State of Maryland , Jamie Raskin on, another impeachment articles, which joined loud Cicilline more than 110 members. Furthermore, Mark Takano and Tim Ryan spoke out in favor of impeachment. Nancy Pelosi agreed with her colleagues and said in an interview on January 7th that "the President of the United States had instigated an armed uprising against America".

On the part of the Republicans, only MP Adam Kinzinger initially supported the impeachment of Trump. On January 12, further supporters of the party declared their support for the project. First, John Katko went public, fearing serious damage to the future of democracy if Trump got away with causing the uproar. Thereafter, the third-highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, Liz Cheney , stated that she was voting for impeachment on a conscientious basis. Other supporters were the representatives Fred Upton and Jaime Herrera Beutler . Internally, Senate Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell said that impeaching the Republican Party would be an opportunity to distance itself from Trump and Trumpism.

Other Republicans, such as Lindsey Graham , have raised concerns about a second impeachment trial. On January 8th, he tweeted that it would "do more harm than good". Mitch McConnell stated that the Senate would not be able to address the matter before January 19, Trump's last day as president, due to time constraints. Thus, the proceedings against Trump could only begin after Biden's inauguration . There have been several precedents for such subsequent impeachment proceedings in US history, for example in the case of Secretary of War William W. Belknap in 1876.

From the point of view of Trump's opponents, proceedings after he leaves office make perfect sense. If convicted, he would not only lose his pension rights and other material benefits, but he could also be banned from office at federal level for life. His plan to run again in the 2024 presidential election would be ruined. Since many Republicans also have an interest in this, the Democrats were hoping for the two-thirds majority in the Senate required for a conviction , even though they themselves only hold half the Senate seats.

Initiation of the procedure

Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi signs the impeachment resolution following the approval of the
House of Representatives

Nancy Pelosi named Jamie Raskin as head of proceedings, as well as David Cicilline , Joaquin Castro , Diana DeGette , Eric Swalwell , Ted Lieu , Stacey Plaskett , Joe Neguse and Madeleine Dean . On January 11, Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu tabled an impeachment resolution in the House of Representatives. According to her, Trump had encouraged the protesters to revolt. With this he put the democracy of the United States at risk and took action against a peaceful transfer of power. On January 13, MPs voted for the impeachment procedure by 232 votes to 197, with 4 abstentions. In addition to all Democrats, ten Republicans also voted: Liz Cheney , Anthony Gonzalez , Jaime Herrera Beutler , John Katko , Adam Kinzinger , Peter Meijer , Dan Newhouse , Tom Rice , Fred Upton and David Valadao .

On January 22nd, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi informed the new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that the indictment against Trump would be filed on January 25th.

The proceedings in the US Senate

On January 26th, the senators were sworn in as a jury. The Republicans among them had previously sought advice from a lawyer. After the swearing in, the Republican Rand Paul applied for the impeachment to be discontinued as allegedly unconstitutional ("unconstitutional"). Majority leader Chuck Schumer disagreed with this. In his opinion, the legal and historical reasons suggested a different interpretation, which was also followed by the majority of US lawyers: The procedure was constitutional according to historical and legal precedents and the language of the constitution was crystal clear ("crystal clear") and without ambiguity (" without ambiguity "). Rand Paul's motion was rejected by 55 to 45 votes. All Democrats and five Republicans (Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Pat Toomey) voted against him, 45 Republicans supported him, including Mitch McConnell, who a few days earlier had declared that Donald Trump had convicts of criminal offenses Actions ("committed impeachable offenses") committed.

The prominent lawyer and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz first declared on January 9th that he was ready to defend Trump and said that Trump had not committed any incitement of insurrection or sedition. Days later, he announced that he would not be joining the legal team. This consisted of the lawyers Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David Schoen, whose strategy followed two lines of argument: a subsequent impeachment procedure was unconstitutional and Trump's speech on January 6, 2021, in which he had called for a march on the Capitol, was covered by the freedom of expression enshrined in the constitution. They also argued that the case against Trump was a Bill of Attainder , i.e. H. as a criminal conviction by parliament, which does not have to be preceded by a court process, a purely political process. The attorney Noah Feldman, who was already involved in the first impeachment proceedings against Trump, called this a red herring by the defense in order to divert attention from the main allegations against Trump.

On February 9, 2021, the actual impeachment began before the US Senate, which had declared it constitutional by a majority and responsible with 56 to 44 votes, to decide on the impeachment of a former US president. The additional vote on Rand Paul’s motion to dismiss came from Republican Senator Bill Cassidy .

The multi-day lecture by the prosecutors and defense of Trump

This was followed by a presentation by the lawyers of the lawsuit on February 9, 10 and 11 : nine members of the House of Representatives explained the aspects that are supposed to substantiate the allegation.

In particular, Trump was accused of violating the constitutional protection obligations he swore in 2016 (precaution, protection, defense). As a result of these obligations explained in the plaintiffs' presentation, the accused president could not rely on the general freedom of speech for his address at the beginning of the mob against parliament, which of course does not represent the freedom to incite criminal acts. His speech was therefore to be seen as an incitement and invitation to the following predictable riot (the English terms incitement , riot ) against the rule of parliament in the United States.

The need for a conviction was also justified by the fact that otherwise, if the offense was not investigated, every incumbent could commit criminal acts using the so-called January exception in the last weeks of his term of office without being prosecuted by the US Congress, and thus the possibility of one The President's sanction by Parliament would be ineffective for this period. The lecture included graphics, text passages from Twitter messages and video clips, some of which had not previously been shown to the public. After the second day of the proceedings and an eight-hour lecture by the democratic impeachment manager, the burden of proof against Donald Trump appeared "overwhelming", as the foreign correspondent for Deutschlandfunk Thilo Kössler summarized the general assessments in Washington.

On February 12, Republicans and Trump's attorneys began presenting the defense. They had up to 16 hours over two days to do this, but only needed three hours. You have been criticized in the press for misrepresentation.

The final pleadings

For the prosecution it was mainly presented by the constitutional lawyer J. Raskin. He stressed the constitutionality of the indictment, the lack of a similar act by a president and commander-in-chief in the past, the obviously willful acceptance of the acts of violence (deaths, injured police officers, property damage, threats to parliamentarians and the vice-president) against Congress (interruption the certification of the election result, the harmful effects of the actions on foreign policy) and the resulting need to prohibit any president from doing this at any time in the future.

On the defense, Van Veen said the criminal nature of the actions of Trump supporters was beyond question. However, he emphasized the lack of evidence in the indictment and its presentations that Trump wanted this. Rather, Trump has consistently rejected violence in the past.

Voting result

On February 13, 2021, Trump was acquitted because the two-thirds majority required for a conviction did not come about. 57 of the 100 members of the Senate voted in favor of the lawsuit with “guilty”. A minority of 43 Senate members found Trump "not guilty" in the roll-call vote; they all belong to the Republican Party. Only the following 7 Republican Senators voted against Trump and with the Democrats:

The following Senators, all of whom are Republican Party members, voted "not guilty":

Opinions of the group chairmen

Two statements by the group chairmen followed. Although the Republican McConnell himself voted “not guilty”, at the beginning of his statement he repeated the statement he had made weeks earlier that the former President Trump was morally and actually responsible for provoking what happened that day.

“[…] There is no question! None! The president Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the event of the day. No question about it! [...] ”

"[...] There is no question! None! President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking events that day. There is no question! [...] "

In his statement he also confirms the prosecutor's account. However, he referred to the ordinary criminal courts for a conviction of Trump.

Reactions to the completed procedure and its result

Former US President Donald Trump, who was acquitted and not re-elected, reacted with satisfaction and thanked the Republican senators for it. He called the process a "witch hunt" against himself. His political movement is just beginning: “Our historical, patriotic and beautiful movement to make America great again has only just begun. There has never been anything like it! ”His accusation against the other side was that the Democrats had tried to undermine the rule of law.

Nancy Pelosi , the spokeswoman for the House of Representatives, thanked the plaintiffs for their entire stand against Trump these days.

Web links

Commons : Second impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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