Donald Trump impeachment: What it means after disgraced president makes history

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Donald Trump has made history by becoming the first US President to be impeached twice.

The Republican's fate now rests in the hands of the Senate, which will hold a trial into whether Trump incited an insurrection.

But this trial is not expected to take place until the last day of the President's term – January 19 – meaning he will be out of office when the verdict is delivered.

If the senators find Trump guilty of inciting an insurrection, they could hold a vote to bar him from holding public office in the future.

He could also lose a six-figure lifetime pension – which is afforded to all former presidents – and a range of other financial perks that come with having held the top job.

The Senate will decide whether Donald Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection
(Image: REUTERS)

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But all of this depends on the Senate voting by a two-thirds majority to convict Trump, which failed to happen during the first impeachment process.

However, this could turn out differently this time as many Republicans now appear to have turned on the President following the shocking storming of the US Capitol.

What are the next steps in the impeachment process?

The impeachment process will now move to the Senate, where a trial will be held into whether Trump incited an insurrection.

But Mitch McConnell, the chamber's leader, has reportedly told senators that has no plans to call an emergency session to begin the trial.

The chamber is currently on a recess and is set to reconvene on Tuesday – the day before Joe Biden's inauguration.

When senators take their seats again, the chamber's incoming Democratic leader Chuck Schumer will be sworn in and decide how long the trial will last.

The trial will take days or even weeks, meaning Trump will have left office by the time of the final vote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holding the signed article of impeachment
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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How likely is it Trump will be convicted?

The bar for impeachment in the Senate is higher than in the House of Representatives, where a simple majority is required.

Two thirds of the Senate – at least 67 of the 100 senators – would have to find Trump guilty for him to be convicted.

CBS News asked 51 Republican senators how they would vote, although only 21 responded.

Ten of them said they opposed impeachment, three said they would consider it and eight declined to say how they would vote.

After winning the Georgia Senate races, the Democrats now have 50 seats in the chamber.

This means they only need 17 Republicans to vote alongside them to convict Trump – if every Democrat finds him guilty.

However those defections are not guaranteed as only 10 Republicans in the House voted for impeachment.

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What does impeachment mean for Biden?

President-elect Biden will have a very busy first few weeks as he balances the impeachment process with the coronavirus pandemic.

Republicans have already warned the trial will further inflame tensions and divisions in the US, despite the country's desperate need to heal.

They argue the process will undermine Biden's plan to repair ties between Americans and bring the nation together.

It is also expected to impede the President-elect's plans to push legislation through the Senate as the chamber will be bound up with impeachment.

Confirmation of the Democrat's appointees for his administration could also be delayed.

It means Biden's power could be restricted for his first 100 days, which is the period when presidents traditionally have their greatest political influence.

The signed article of impeachment after the vote to impeach the President
(Image: Greg Nash / Pool via CNP / SplashNews.com)

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What does impeachment mean for Trump?

The Senate could vote at the trial to block Trump, who has eyes on a 2024 election campaign and securing a second term then, from running for public office ever again.

He could also lose his presidential pension and other financial perks, including tax benefits, travel allowances and more.

Ex-presidents receive a pension worth $221,400 (£162,125) a year and are also entitled to up to $1milllion (£732,275) for travel expenses.

Even if Trump is found guilty by the Senate, he is unlikely to face criminal charges because of America’s broad free speech protections, legal experts claim.

Based on currently public information, legal experts doubt the incoming Biden administration would pursue Trump.

The move could risk distracting the new government and kick off a political storm in a divided United States.

Pelosi announcing the vote count yesterday
(Image: Greg Nash / Pool via CNP / SplashNews.com)

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Could Trump be prevented from running as President again?

Yes. A Senate vote on disqualifying Trump from public office could pass by simple majority.

US citizens are allowed two terms in the White House so Mr Trump would be permitted to run again in 2024 unless he receives a life ban.

Paul Campos, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Colorado, said that even if the Senate does not convict the President, senators could hold a second, separate vote to prevent him from future office.

That would mean Democrats, could bar Trump from running for president in 2024 even without the support of Republican senators.

Trump could, however, try to challenge such a determination in court, Mr Campos said.

Other legal experts, however, said the Senate could only prevent Trump from holding office if it first votes to convict him in the impeachment trial.

Lawmakers could also declare that Trump engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” under the 14th Amendment to prevent him from running again.

This would require a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

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