- On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump, making him the first president to be impeached twice in US history.
- Trump is charged with “incitement of insurrection,” in connection with the January 6 riots at the Capitol.
- However, the Senate is not set to reconvene until January 20, the day Joe Biden is inaugurated.
What a predictable lame-duck period this has been for political handicappers wagering on Donald Trump props! Especially after the January 6 riots at the Capitol, which set into motion a course of events that has seen the President impeached for the second time in as many years and jeopardized Trump’s post-presidency political aspirations.
On January 8, we published a blog post that examined four political prop bets dealing with the final days of Donald Trump’s first term. One of those betting lines asked whether the President would be impeached before January 20.
“I predict that the Democrats will file two articles of impeachment but won’t have enough time to conduct House hearings, vote to impeach, then send the articles to the Senate for a trial and a final vote. And even if the impeachment trial does progress quickly enough to have a Senate vote before January 20, there’s no certainty that the Dems can find 67 votes to convict and remove the President.”
“I suspect making Donald Trump the first US president to be impeached twice is more important to Democrats than successfully removing him from office a few days early.”
Well, on Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for “inciting an insurgency.”
Similar to last year’s impeachment proceedings, the votes fell mostly along party lines. However, this time, a handful of Republican dissenters made it the most bi-partisan impeachment in US history.
House Impeachment Vote Breakdown (by Party):
10 Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach:
- Liz Cheney of Wyoming
- Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington
- John Katko of New York
- Adam Kinzinger of Illinois
- Fred Upton of Michigan
- Dan Newhouse of Washington
- Peter Meijer of Michigan
- Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio
- David Valadao of California
- Tom Rice of South Carolina
Next, House leaders must deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate to start the trial.
However, Joe Biden’s inauguration is on January 20, the same day the upper chamber reconvenes…which complicates things for Democrats hoping to remove Trump from office officially and possibly disqualify him from running again in 2024.
No Time for a Senate Trial
In last Friday’s article, we encouraged readers to bet on Trump completing his first term at –350 moneyline odds. Not because the Senate will necessarily acquit him; the President’s political enemies are just running out of time.
The Senate can’t start the impeachment trial until House Democrats send the article of impeachment to the upper chamber. Even if Nancy Pelosi delivers the charge to the other side of the Capitol immediately, Senate leaders from both parties would have to agree to reconvene early to begin the trial.
However, Mitch McConnell has already dismissed the prospect of returning before January 19, the day before Donald Trump exits office.
That means the trial won’t start until after Joe Biden is already inaugurated as President.
“Given the rules, procedures, and Senate precedents that govern presidential impeachment trials, there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week,” the GOP leader from Kentucky said.
“In light of this reality, I believe it will best serve our nation if Congress and the executive branch spend the next seven days completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden administration.”
- The Senate has never held an impeachment trial for a president after they’ve left office; however, it has been done for other government officials.
- Furthermore, moving forward with this unprecedented trial after January 20 could occupy the Senate’s time during a period the chamber should be confirming Biden’s cabinet members.
Disqualification and Censorship
In a previous article, I considered the possibility that the Senate would drop impeachment proceedings against Trump after he left office and move to vote on disqualification instead.
However, I recently discovered that the Senate could not disqualify the soon-to-be-former President without first voting to convict him for the impeachment charge. So, for Congress to use legislative channels to ban Trump from running again, they must hold the trial after he’s vacated the Oval Office.
If they go down that road, there’s a question of whether extending the impeachment process beyond the President leaving office is permissible. No court has ever ruled on it.
Legal scholars are divided on the issue.
“The special penalties upon conviction in impeachment are designed to protect the republic from the very type of people who have abused public office in such a grave manner that they should never have the opportunity to be entrusted with public power again,” wrote Michael J. Gerhardt, a professor at the UNC School of Law.
“It would make no sense for former officials, or ones who step down just in time, to escape that remedial mechanism.”
If the Senate pursues a conviction, not only will they clog the chamber floor, — when it would otherwise be redirecting its attention towards confirming the Biden cabinet — but they’ll also need time to argue in court for the right to continue the impeachment trial past Inauguration Day.
Private Sector “Impeachment”
I suspect the Senate will decide to drop the charge against Donald Trump as soon as he exits office. They’ve already sullied his legacy with the “only president to be impeached twice” tag, and the backlash from the Capitol Hill riots has mostly kept Donald Trump quiet for his final weeks. His enemies’ only remaining issue is ensuring he can’t return to politics in 2024.
By all appearances, Democrats and their GOP allies will turn to the private sector to purge Trump from the public eye.
- Every social media platform with reach has banned Donald Trump from their services permanently. Alternatives to the major platforms that wouldn’t agree to apply the same censorship standards were de-platformed from app stores and Amazon Web Services servers.
- The country’s most prominent financial institutions, including J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Deutsche Bank, have made moves ranging from closing Trump’s accounts and cutting all ties with him to halting donations to political action committees. Some are considering blacklisting politicians alleged to have tried overturning the 2020 presidential election permanently.
- A variety of massive multi-national corporations have pledged to stop donating to GOP candidates connected to Donald Trump’s efforts to challenge the election results as well.
- Payment processors have also banned Trump-affiliated businesses. The shutdowns will significantly hinder any businesses Trump may try to launch, including a rumored media venture and potential 2024 presidential campaign / PAC.
Let’s assume Donald Trump doesn’t have access to business loans (or the ability to bank with the largest financial institutions) and can’t receive donations thanks to payment processors shutting him down. In that case, there’s not much the 45th President of the United States can do to stay politically relevant.
By allowing the private sector to collude against Trump, political officials have a degree of plausible deniability – they’re not technically responsible for the former President disappearing.
Either way, as a betting man, I’d stake the house on Donald Trump disappearing for good very soon.
His impeachment trial probably won’t extend beyond Joe Biden’s inauguration, preventing the President from being convicted or disqualified from public office, but it won’t matter.
The real sources of power in America are flexing their muscle, and they’ve decided the MAGA era is over.