On Jan. 9, 2021, the House of Representatives made history when they impeached former President Trump for a second time, making him the first president impeached twice in U.S. history. This unprecedented decision was made after President Trump’s involvement in the US Capitol riot, which took place on Jan. 6, 2021.
On Jan. 6, Congress met to certify President Joe Biden’s win over former President Trump in the November 2020 election. In an attempt to “stop the steal”, supporters of former President Trump stormed the Capitol under Trump’s encouragement and support to delay the certification and potentially destroy the Electoral College votes and harm members of Congress. The impeachment vote was 232 to 197, with all Democrats joined by 10 Republicans who swore to impeach Trump days before the impeachment vote even took place.
President Joe Biden was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2021. With the earliest trial date being January 19, the second impeachment by the House is mostly a symbolic move. If the Senate had met and voted to convict President Trump before the end of his term, he would have lost many of his post-presidential benefits. The Former Presidents Act of 1958 states that presidents are entitled to a yearly pension, a government-paid staff, government-paid office space and furniture and a $1 million annual budget for security and travel after leaving office. Post-presidential pensions equal the annual salary of the head of an executive department, such as the Departments of Justice. That is roughly $200,000, or half of the presidential salary.
However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that if the Senate proceeds to a trial and successfully convicts Trump after his term ends, he could not be removed from an office he did not hold and he would still be entitled to his post-presidential benefits. This is due to the fact that he finished his four-year term before being convicted. The Senate could immediately hold a vote which would only require a simple majority to ban former President Trump from seeking office again. This could prevent former President Trump from seeking re-election in 2024, as he previously stated that he has an interest in doing. This is the only punishment the Senate can consider as part of an impeachment conviction after his term ends. With all eyes on America right now, the next few days can and will drastically change the party relations of the American political sphere.