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‘Toothless tiger’: Impeachment could bar Trump from future office

An extraordinary breach of the United States Capitol by rioters egged on by President Donald Trump has led legislators into uncharted territory as they set course for impeachment with just days left in Trump’s term. 

 Democrats in the US House of Representative have said they will introduce an Article of Impeachment against Trump as soon as Monday, accusing him of engaging “in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States”. 

 In his repeated attempts to undermine the election and his directive for supporters to march on the seat of the US legislature on January 6 as Congress met to certify the victory of President-elect Joe Biden, Trump “betrayed his trust as President”, the lawmakers argue. 

 The move has the potential to shape the early days of Biden’s presidency, as well as the US political landscape for years to come – as Trump could be barred from holding federal office again in the future, experts said. 

 “The fact that that could be the consequence could be a death blow to Trump,” Alan Baron, a former special counsel to the House of Representatives during four impeachment inquiries against federal judges, told Al Jazeera. For Trump to be impeached, the article must pass a majority vote in the House before it can be sent to the Senate for a trial. 

The measure then requires two-thirds support in the Senate for the president to be convicted and removed from office. 

 Then, Baron explained, a subsequent Senate vote, “historically involving only a simple majority”, could then bar the impeached president from ever holding public office again. 

 As of Sunday, the Article of Impeachment against Trump had 200 co-sponsors in the 435-seat chamber, where Democrats hold a slim majority. 

 With the party also set to soon take majority control of the Senate, impeachment could be a “practical” move aimed at preventing Trump from running for president again in 2024 – or a “symbolic” rebuke of his actions, said Baron. 

 “There’s been talk about Trump’s role as the sort of the government in exile, with regard to rallying Republicans when he’s out of office,” he said. “If he’s barred from holding any federal office, he’s kind of a toothless tiger.”

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