Second historic indictment for the US president, who will be tried in the Senate

After the vote on Donald Trump’s impeachment, Nancy Pelosi signed the indictment against the US president on January 13, 2021. – Alex Brandon/AP/SIPA

From our correspondent in the United States,

Never had an impeachment been voted twice against the same American president. Indicted by the House on Wednesday for “incitement to insurgency”, Donald Trump should soon be tried by the Senate. In all likelihood, his trial will take place after Joe Biden takes office on January 20. And Donald Trump’s future – who could be declared ineligible if convicted – will largely depend on the position of Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

A week after the Capitol riots, the US president was indicted for “inciting insurgency” by 232 votes to 197. In total, ten Republicans, including Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, voted with the Democrats – a record for impeachment. “No one is above the law, not even the President of the United States,” said Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the House, after officially signing the indictment. According to her, Donald Trump, who is accused by the Democrats of having incited his supporters to attack the Capitol where the elected officials were voting to validate the results of the presidential election, on January 6, represents “a danger for the democracy “.

A trial after his departure

Now all eyes are on the Senate. While elected officials are on parliamentary recess, Mitch McConnell has ruled out recalling them to judge Donald Trump this week. According to him, there is anyway not enough time to conduct a trial before January 20: last year, the trial of Donald Trump for “abuse of power” in the Ukrainian soap opera lasted three weeks .

Joe Biden reacted on Wednesday night. The President-elect of the United States believes that “the planned and coordinated attack was carried out by domestic terrorists incited to violence by Donald Trump”. As Republicans called on him to unify the country by opposing a trial, Biden said he was in favor. According to him, “the process continues in the Senate”.

Donald Trump should therefore be tried after leaving the White House. Some experts assure that it is unconstitutional because he will be back to civilian life. But most jurists believe that even in the event of an appeal by the ex-president, the head of the Supreme Court, who presides over debates in the Senate, should kick in and leave this political process in the hands of elected officials. Because the stake is not so much a possible dismissal as ineligibility, which can be decreed by a second vote.

McConnell indécis

For Democrats, the challenge is immense. Removal from office must be voted by a two-thirds majority, or 67 senators out of 100. With the arrival of the two newly elected Democrats in Georgia, Chuck Schumer can count on 50 votes – provided the centrist Joe Manchin does not rebel. To be dismissed, Donald Trump would therefore have to be released by 17 Republican senators, or exactly one third.

On paper, five “Never Trumpers” could logically rebel: Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Pat Toomey and Ben Sasse, who have all criticized Donald Trump’s actions. But to arrive at 17, it would necessarily take the support of the boss of the Republicans. And for now, Mitch McConnell is undecided. According to the American media, the clever tactician believes that Donald Trump cost the victory to the two Republican candidates in Georgia. And the Kentucky senator had very strong words against the rebellion of some in his camp against the election results.

McConnell sent an email to his troops on Wednesday, stating that he had not yet made a decision and would wait until he heard arguments in the Senate trial. In the event of impeachment, a second vote, this one by a simple majority, could in the process make Donald Trump ineligible. Which would not displease all the contenders for the next Republican nomination. The 2024 campaign has already started.

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