Donald Trump may be about to fall into a political chasm. After the deadly riots in Washington D.C. that saw the physical manifestation of American democracy invaded, violated and trashed, and left five people dead, it looks like some in the Republican Party are not prepared to entertain Donald Trump any longer. Senior Democrats in Congress had already called for the removal of the President by any means available, either by the 25th Amendment or by another impeachment. Vice President Mike Pence has already ruled out the cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment. And I can actually understand that. The 25th Amendment was passed four years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to make the transition of power easier. Section Three allows for the President to voluntarily hand over power to the Vice President if the President knows that they are going to be unable to discharge the duties of their office. President Reagan and President George W. Bush both used Section Three to grant Presidential powers to their Vice Presidents when they went in for surgery and were under general anaesthesia. Under Section Three, both Presidents were able to re-assume office once they were sufficiently healthy to do so.
Section Four of the 25th Amendment is what would apply here, because Trump would never cede power willingly even for a medical emergency. It allows the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to declare the President unable to discharge the duties of their office. The President can rebuke this assertion but he is removed immediately from office immediately. But again, Pence has already ruled this out. Impeachment is the route that will have to be taken. Trump has already been impeached once before. In December 2019, he was tried for abuse of power, for attempting to solicit a foreign power’s aid in his re-election campaign by investigating his main political rival. He was also charged with obstruction of Congress. The Senate cleared him in the trial. But he faces a second impeachment. That is unprecedented in US history. Only three Presidents have been formally impeached. No one has ever been impeached twice. The Democrats formally introduced an Article of Impeachment in the House of Tuesday, accusing the President of inciting insurrection.
But what will send the President into fits, and would normally result in a Twitter barrage, is the reports that several Republican Congressmen and up to 20 GOP Senators are prepared to vote to impeach him. The third most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives, Liz Cheney, along with two other Republican Congressmen have already confirmed that they will vote to impeach the President. Cheney went further and directly pointed the finger at the President, saying, “He summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack”.
She added, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution”.
More worrying for the President is the fact that House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, a staunch Trump ally, decided not to ask the rank-and-file member not to vote against the measure. And even more worrying for Trump is the reaction of soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell is, according to the New York Times, pleased that House Democrats are moving ahead with impeachment because he believes it will help the Republican Party rid themselves of Donald Trump. The Senate could use the impeachment process to hold a vote blocking Trump from running for office again. This would scupper any ambitions he may have to run for President in 2024.
Some might look at these moves by the GOP and its members in Congress a touch cynically. After all the man is going to be out of office next week, what is the point of going to all this trouble when he isn’t going to be President for very long? Well, let’s see. He spent months stirring people’s fear about their voting rights being violated and painting the results of that as an apocalyptic hellscape. Everything they held dear would thrown away and they would be forced to live differently to how they were now. Continually forcing the point home about the need to fight and resist and do everything they could to not allow the nightmare to happen. And then, lawsuit after lawsuit failed to show any evidence of election fraud, of any kind of conspiracy at all. In court, at least. Trump, his supporters, legal team, allies in Congress continued to claim election fraud in the public sphere. There was never any filing that contained any credible evidence or even claims of fraud. Often what was submitted as evidence was nothing more than hearsay or entirely circumstantial.
And when all the legal avenues had been exhausted, Trump turned into a mafia don and started vaguely threatening people to try and get them to do what he wanted. Which was, ignore votes cast for Biden and just hand him the presidency. He even tried to publicly strongarm Mike Pence into disregarding electors sent from states to vote for Biden. And then there was the icing on top of a particularly hideous cake. While Trump did not explicitly encourage the crowd at the rally in DC to march on the Capitol building and ransack it, his language again was of resistance in whatever form that might take, implying that the Democrats were willing to go to great extremes to ensure this was all certified, that this was the last chance to stop Biden’s certification as President-Elect. His promise to never concede encompassed the entire crowd that was at that rally near to the White House. His urging to ‘fight’ and ‘fight like hell’ were calls to some sort of action. What sort of action? Who knows?
So, there is most definitely a point to working to remove Donald Trump from the Presidency before his term expires, even if it is only by a week. And if he is impeached, it won’t just be the Democrats, or the ‘radical left’ doing this, but members of Trump’s own party, who got a violent shock to their system last week. They saw how far he is willing to go to, how desperate he was to retain his power at all costs. And if that mob had got to the Congressmen and women, and the Vice President, who knows how far they would have taken things? They were chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence’ after all. And some have decided that the stain of Trump needs to removed from the party, unless it becomes totally lost to conspiracy theories and hate speech. Donald Trump invited the worst of society into the Republican Party and embraced them. And they loved him. Because they saw themselves and their own poisonous beliefs reflected back at them. And while some continue to cling on, now likely looking to curry favour and take portions of the fanbase for themselves, others have finally reached the point of no return. Donald Trump is now a liability. And there is nothing he can do, no tweet he fire off, no one he can threaten to change that.