Explained: With US Capitol storming, can Donald Trump be removed before his term ends on January 20?
Washington, Jan 07: Amid the US Capitol storming by supporters of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, several Congressional Democrats are on a move to remove him from office before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20.
The chaotic scenes here unfolded after Republican Trump, who has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, addressed thousands of protesters and repeated unfounded claims that the election was stolen from him.
However, there are two ways to remove a president from office: Impeachment and the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution. In either scenario, Vice President Mike Pence would take over until Biden's inauguration.
Can Donald Trump be impeached?
Yes. However, a misconception about "impeachment" is that it refers to the removal of a president from office. In fact, impeachment refers only to the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Congress, bringing charges that a president engaged in a "high crime or misdemeanor" - similar to an indictment in a criminal case.
If a simple majority of the House's 435 members approves bringing charges, known as "articles of impeachment," the process moves to the Senate, the upper chamber, which holds a trial to determine the president's guilt.
Earlier, the former US president was impeached by the Democratic-led US House in December 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress stemming from his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden.
How long would it take for a president be impeached?
Frank Bowman, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Missouri, said Trump "arguably fomented sedition," or an attempted overthrowing of the US government.
Bowman also said that it could be done in a day, adding that the House and Senate have wide latitude to set impeachment rules as they see fit.
"They could decide to impeach him tomorrow by noon and walk it over the Capitol rotunda to the Senate and make a rule to start a trial tomorrow afternoon," Bowman said.
What is the 25th Amendment?
The 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967 and adopted in the wake of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963, deals with presidential succession and disability.
Section 4, which has gotten the most attention during Trump's presidency, addresses situations where a president is unable to do the job but does not step down voluntarily.
For this to happen, Pence and the majority of Trump's Cabinet would need to declare Trump unable to perform the duties of the presidency and remove him.