Hours after a riot at the Capitol was started by supporters of President Donald Trump Wednesday, Jan. 6, a growing number of Democrats are calling for the president to be impeached for inciting violence. Since Trump was previously impeached by the House, but acquitted by the Senate, you might be wondering: Can a president be impeached twice? It may be possible in light of recent events.
Following a rally and inflammatory speech by Trump on Jan. 6, pro-Trump rioters got through security and breached the Capitol Building, putting it into lockdown and forcing lawmakers to shelter in place. Vice President Mike Pence and other senators were evacuated. During hours of altercations with Capitol Police, President Trump was criticized for his inaction. He told the rioters in a tweet that has now been removed by Twitter for violating Twitter's rules, “We love you” but to “stay peaceful,” before finally urging them to go home in a video where he also peddled baseless election fraud claims. Elite Daily previously reached out to the White House for additional comment from Trump on the matter, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
In the aftermath of the riot, more than three dozen Democrats have called for the president to be impeached for “inciting violence.” Others have suggested enacting the 25th Amendment, which basically says that in the event that the president becomes unable to do his job, the vice president becomes the president in his stead. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on the calls for impeachment and the use of the 25th Amendment, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted on Jan. 6 that she was drafting articles of impeachment, writing, “Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate. We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath.”
Along with numerous Democratic members of the House, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker also shared their support of the measure in light of recent events. One Republican, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, wrote, “The fabric of our democracy and the principles of our republic are under attack by the President. Enough is enough. President Trump should resign or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by the Congress.”
President Trump was first impeached by the House of Representatives on Dec. 18, 2019, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. But he was subsequently acquitted and not removed by the Senate on Feb. 5, 2020.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed reporters on Thursday, Jan. 7. According to video of her remarks, Pelosi said President Trump had "call[ed] for this seditious act," and that "the president has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people." She added, "I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the vice president to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment." Highlighting impeachment as a last resort, Pelosi closed, "If the vice president and the cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment. That is the overwhelming sentiment of my caucus."
Legally, the House would be able to impeach him again — but they would have to start the whole process from the beginning. That means that one or more members of the House would need to introduce impeachment legislation, at which point the Speaker would once again need to sign off on impeachment proceedings. From there, House committees would have to hold another inquiry, determine whether Trump committed impeachable offenses, and approve articles of impeachment against him. After that, the rest of the House would once again have to vote on these articles of impeachment before the matter could go to the Senate.
The Constitution says very little about impeachment, and it certainly doesn't say anything that would stop Congress from impeaching a president more than once. As Washington Post opinion columnist Paul Waldman pointed out on Dec. 24, 2019, the lack of precedent for impeaching a president twice does not make it impossible — especially because only other two presidents have been impeached in the past and neither of them was vying to be reelected.
Prior to the events of Jan. 6, the hassle and cost of an impeachment may have been enough to avoid it, but with Pelosi's latest comment on the matter, a sequel to the impeachment doesn't appear to be out of the question.
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