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Trump's 2nd impeachment tests new constitutional territory

Capitol Hill Capitol Building Capitol Dome
Posted at 9:04 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 23:04:33-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — The second impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is unprecedented. "Politics is always a component of this," said University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Political Science Professor, Josh Dunn. It is the first impeachment of a president no longer in office. “The constitution doesn't spell out exactly what's supposed to happen in these circumstances. So that's why there's debate over whether it's constitutional to impeach."

Whether you see it as a necessary rebuke, or political theatrics, it tests new constitutional territory. For example, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court typically presides at a Senate impeachment hearing, but Chief Justice John Roberts recently said he will not preside at this one, because Trump is no longer a sitting president.

One of the consequences of impeachment is removal from office; Trump is already gone. The other potential punishment would have more impact. “Probably more important, to disqualify him from holding future office,” said Dunn, “I mean that's really the only meaningful punishment that they can levy right now."

Early analysis shows the trial will likely be more of a political statement. Conviction appears improbable. A two thirds majority is needed to convict. It would require 17 Republican senators if all 50 Democratic senators vote to convict. So far the number of possible Republican votes is far short of what is needed.