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Constitutional law expert weighs in on potential Trump impeachment

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 12:26 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2021 at 4:30 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The U.S. House of Representatives is moving forward with plans to impeach President Trump for a second time.

The House will hold a vote on Wednesday morning. They need a majority vote in order to impeach. At least three House Republicans say they support impeachment following, what some lawmakers say, is President Trump’s role in the assault on the Capitol last week.

Constitutional Law expert Jared Carter says it’s a “legal certainty” that the Democratic-controlled House will vote in favor of the Article of Impeachment that claims the president “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transfer of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government.” But Carter says it’s unlikely the GOP-controlled Senate will convict Trump before he leaves office on January 20. “There’s just no way that the Senate-- even if they had the political will to convict-- is going to vote two-thirds to convict the president of the Article of Impeachment in a day,” said Carter.

While removal from office is not realistic, Carter says impeaching the president would set a historical precedent. “It’s not going to be setting a legal like a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court does. It’s setting a historical or political precedent that says when a president calls for his supporters to fight, when his personal attorney calls for his supporters to engage in ‘trial by combat’ and then that’s exactly what happens, impeaching him sends the message that that is absolutely not accepted and is inconsistent with an executive’s role in taking care that the laws be faithfully executed,” Carter said.

Some people WCAX News spoke to on Tuesday night, ahead of Wednesday’s impeachment vote, said they believe President Trump inciting the violence at the Capitol and they want him to be held accountable. “He wholeheartedly, 110%, failed in his duties to protect that pillar of our democracy: our nation’s Capitol,” Ben Luna said.

“It would be slightly divisive to move forward with that but I also think you can’t ignore what he’s done,” said Ed Deslauriers.

Caleb Copley said he doesn’t think President Trump is to blame for his supporters storming the Capitol.

“It’s not Trump’s fault,” Copley said. “Trump did not tell people ‘Hey. let’s start a riot.’ Someone did, but I don’t remember Trump making a tweet about that.”

Carter says there’s a chance the House will wait until after the Biden administration takes over and democrats take control of the Senate to hold a trial. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see the House of Representatives wait to deliver the Article of Impeachment to the Senate, because there is no requirement under the Constitution that they deliver them immediately after the articles have been passed, after the president’s been impeached,” Carter explained. “And then after the inauguration and swearing-in ceremonies, the balance of power in the Senate shifts dramatically to the other party and they’ll be able to control the agenda moving forward, and then I think it’s quite possible we’ll see movement in a trial. Whether they can get a conviction with the Senate so evenly-split -- I think remains to be seen. There are some Senate republicans who have indicated they would go along with it but when push comes to shove, you never know what ends up happening.”

Carter says if impeached again, President Trump will be the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. If convicted, the Senate could bar him from ever holding office again.

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