Can we indict Congress?

After the storm on the Capitol: expedited procedure?

Almost 190 Democrats speak out in favor of renewed impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. But he would still remain in office until the end.

Numerous US Democrats are calling for rapid impeachment proceedings against US President Trump Photo: Bebeto Matthews / ap

BERLINtaz | Just nine days before Joe Biden's inauguration as the new US President, the House of Representatives could initiate new impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump on Monday. Almost 190 Democratic MPs have so far endorsed a corresponding draft by MPs Ted Lieu from California and David Cicilline from Rhode Island.

Trump is accused of tweets and speech in front of the assembled demonstrators last Wednesday of calling for a storm on the parliament building, which killed five people and interrupted the session to confirm Biden's election victory for hours. “We cannot stop at seriously formulated press releases. If Trump does not resign, Congress must condemn him to hold him accountable, ”said Lieu der New York Times. Trump would become the first president in US history against whom Congress is indicting twice.

However, impeachment proceedings would not prevent him from remaining in office with full powers until the appointed end of his term on January 20 at 12:00 noon Washington time.

In the House of Representatives, a simple majority of Democratic MPs would be enough to pass the indictment. And that could be done quickly: "After he drove his supporters into a frenzy with lies about the election results, the president incited an uprising, and that in public," says Norm Eisen, legal architect of the first impeachment proceedings, the magazine Politico. "What more do you need?"

One day before Biden's inauguration

It would therefore be entirely possible for the House of Representatives to vote on the indictment in an urgent manner and not only after long witness hearings as in 2019 over the Ukraine affair.

A Senate that has been dealing with Trump for weeks is delaying the planned restart

Even then, however, the Senate, which ultimately has to decide on the indictment in a kind of legal process and in which it would take a two-thirds majority to remove Trump from office, would deal with it for the first time on January 19 at the earliest - one day before Biden's inauguration.

But he also has to negotiate when Trump is no longer in office. In the unlikely event of a conviction, this would not remain without consequences for Trump: He would then be prohibited from running again for public office.

Throughout Saturday, reports US media, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic head of the House of Representatives, held talks about how to proceed. In a letter to the Democratic Group, she was not clear about whether she really wanted to start the process, but asked MPs to be ready to return to Washington. "It must be noted that this desecration [of the Parliament building] was instigated by the President," she wrote.

Political way out for Nancy Pelosi

However, she has to weigh far more. The upcoming President Joe Biden, who also repeatedly affirms that the country wants one, needs a Senate in the next few months that is working full steam to confirm his nominees for government posts and to work on new laws. However, a Senate that would deal with Trump for weeks - and then also have to negotiate questions such as the criminal responsibility of demonstrators for violence originating from participants - cannot be in the interests of the planned new beginning.

Several of those Republican MPs who voted to confirm Biden's election victory on Wednesday turned to Biden to ask him to dissuade Pelosi from initiating a new impeachment case. Biden himself kept a low profile - he would leave this decision to Congress, it was just said.

The idea of ​​the new impeachment procedure has so far received little public support from the Republican side. Even those who have rediscovered their aversion to Trump since Wednesday have held back - even if it can be assumed that many of them fear what Trump could do in his remaining days in office.

At the end of last week, Pelosi had not only tried to get Vice President Mike Pence to work with the cabinet to initiate a quick removal of Trump by applying the 25th amendment to the constitution - which Pence refused. She also tried to speak to the General Staff about removing Trump's powers as Constitutional Commander-in-Chief until 11:59 a.m. on Jan. 20, particularly the disposition of nuclear weapons codes. However, the constitution does not provide for a procedure for this as long as a president is in office.

One political way out for Pelosi could be to have the House of Representatives voted on the indictment next week - but then not to submit it to the Senate for the time being. The political statement would have been made, but dealing with Trump would not stand in the way of a good start for the Biden administration.