In the history of the United States of America, Trump on Wednesday has become the first President to be impeached twice, although he was acquitted in February 2019 impeachment effort, his fate seems to be unclear in the second, speedy impeachment attempt.
Looking back: Donald Trump's first impeachment inquiry, 2019
The senate voted to acquit the President with 52-48 on the charges of abuse of power and 53-47 on the charges of obstruction of congress. The only Republican, Senator Mitt Romney voted to convict him on abuse of power.
The first Impeachment of US President Donald Trump can be traced back to "Trump-Ukraine Scandal" where an intelligence officer had filed a whistleblower complaint alleging wrongdoing on the part of Trump.
The whistleblower had alleged that Trump pressurized Ukraine to investigate his political rivals on a phone call. The whistleblower also alleged that the White House tried to conceal the facts. It was touted as abuse of power by the the President of US.
According to a complaint by the whistleblower, Trump abused his power to solicit help from the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the US elections in 2020.
It was alleged that the President asked Zelensky, to investigate his political rivals including 'Joe Biden' and his son 'Hunter Biden.' The whistleblower was the member of the CIA as per several media reports.
It was also said that there were many phone calls made to pressurize Zelensky in investigating Trump's political rivals with the help from Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
It was not an isolated effort by Trump but a series of efforts that included agencies like William Barr's Justice Department, Mike Pompeo's State Department, and Mick Mulvaney's Office of Management and Budget.
Allegedly, Trump also tried to influence Ukraine by holding $400 million in the US military aid. The whistleblower filed the complaint in mid-August. This led Nancy Pelosy to declare that the House of Representatives would conduct an impeachment inquiry.
The whistleblower had written about the possible cover up. He write, "In the days following the phone call, I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to “lock down” all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced — as is customary — by the White House Situation Room. This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call."
What did the whistleblower do?
The whistleblower filed a complaint with the Inspector General (IG). Under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, if the IG deems it a matter of urgent concern, they can forward to the director of national intelligence. In this case, the IG, Joseph Maguire didn't forward the complaint. Instead he sought suggestions from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Council.
IG didn't forward it to the national intelligence. It was unearthed in September, 2019. Pro-Trump supporters tried to discredit the whistleblower by labeling him biased.
What ensued after the whistleblower's allegations in 2019?
The White House released an edited summary of a call that took place on July 25 between US and Ukrainian Presidents. Media reports said that the document was like a transcript that was circulated.
In the summary, Trump asked for a favor from Ukraine to investigate Ukraine's possession of a Democratic email server (it was termed as unfounded and baseless by experts) and another into the alleged corrupt dealings of the Biden family with Ukrainian prosecutor.
According to report published in Washington Post, Trump ordered chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to suspend $400 million US military aid to Ukraine, just a week before calling Zelensky.
In a summary, when Trump asked that they do a lot for Ukraine, Zelensky expressed his gratefulness on the phone call. Trump also asked Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden's business with the Ukrainian company and unfounded claims in which he alleged Joe Biden was trying to shield his son.
The axis of the inquiry was related to Trump-Ukraine scandal. House Speaker, Nancy Pelosy announced that House of Representatives is pursuing an impeachment inquiry in September 2019.
Fact: It is extremely difficult to remove the President from the office, in the past two US Presidents were impeached but they were later acquitted While Richard Nixon had resigned after Watergate Scandal in 1974. So, till now only three presidents are impeached while none convicted.
Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee Chair wanted to investigate four questions:
a. Did Trump sought foreign aid in US elections?
b. Did the meeting with Ukraine held on the condition of investigations discussed on call?
c. Did Ukraine has any reason to believe that US military aid was suspended till investigations are launched?
d. Is there any cover-up on Trump's conduct?
In his defence, Trump asserted having no connection to anything inappropriate happened on call. The White House Senior Advisor, Stephen Miller claimed that it is all a plot by 'deep state' who dislike Trump.
When the reporters asked if Trump actually asked favors by withholding US military aid to Ukraine, the acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's on October 17, 2019 told that it is normal in US to incentivize another countries to give what US wants.
How Trump acquitted in 2020?
Trump was found not guilty in Article 1, Abuse of Power by senators with 52-48 tally and not guilty in Article 2, the Obstruction of Congress with 53-47 tally. It was alleged that the Chamber's Republican majority defeated an effort to call witnesses who could have testified against him.
He became the third President to have acquitted in a Senate trial. To remove a president, the two third majority of 67 senators is required.
Fast forward to Present: Trump's Impeachment in 2021
Reflecting back on Donald Trump's last year in the office as the President of US, it ended on a similar note like his last year when he was impeached. Trump became the first president in the history of US to be impeached twice.
In a unanimous vote by House Democrats, and joining them 10 Republicans, it has become the most bipartisan impeachment effort historically.
The reason to impeach Trump is inflaming his supporters for US Capitol unrest and assault that lead to five deaths.
The Ten Republicans who joined to Impeach Trump are Liz Cheney, Anthony Gonzalez, Peter Meijer, Dan Newhouse, Adam Kinzinger, John Katko, Fred Upton, Jaime Harrera Beutler, Tom Rice and David Valadao.
After backing Donald Trump for many years, Republicans who joined to impeach Trump believe in his role of inciting the violent mob on the US Capitol. This time the impeachment effort is speedy as compared to the previous one.
Hindrances to removal from office after Impeachment:
It is lucid that there is not majority of votes in the Senate to convict Trump. The conviction requires 67 votes or two-third majority of the chamber. It means 17 Republicans have to join 50 Democratic caucus on a conviction vote after the newly elected Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are seated.
Not even a single Republican has announced that they will vote to convict Trump, however, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell is said to be pleased on the beginning of the impeachment proceedings.
What if Trump is impeached?
The lawmakers can bar Donald Trump from holding Presidency if he is impeached. It will clear the path for Senator Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley. They both have their own presidential ambitions.
What changes: Comparing Past & Present
It is evident from the above facts and points that this time the proceedings are fast paced, however, it is too early to say if Trump will be impeached and barred from holding Presidency later on. It is pertinent to note here that even when some Republicans have joined to impeach Trump and some like Senator Lisa Murkowski and Pat Toomey have called for Trump's resignation and others like Ben Sesse is said to consider the article of impeachment.
While in the past the senators acquitted him, this time it might be a little tough to get out of the proceedings. Moreover, as per media reports, Impeachment trial won't happen until after Biden is sworn in as the President.