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Congress “highly unlikely” to convict President Trump through impeachment

Texas A&M U.S. Presidency expert: “There won’t be time for a trial” before President Trump leaves office on Jan. 20.
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 6:25 PM CST
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives says the House will move forward with impeachment if Vice President Mike Pence does not invoke the 25th amendment by Wednesday. This comes as a response to the President’s rally that led to protesters breaching the U.S. Capitol and allegedly incited the riots that killed five people last week.

The House will vote on the 25th Amendment measure as early as Tuesday and on the article of impeachment Wednesday. However, even with the House’s passage of the resolution to request Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th amendment, it’s highly unlikely Pence would actually do so. So with just two weeks left in President Donald Trump’s term, it raises the question: why move to impeach?

George Edwards, the University Distinguished Professor Emeritus Texas A&M’s department of political science and noted U.S. presidency expert, joined First News at Four to break down what Congress intends to do with impeachment proceedings.

Edwards says the House’s burden of impeachment proceedings can actually be streamlined easily and adds that they could vote to impeach President Trump, for the second time, by the end of the week. However, a House vote to impeach would not convict President Trump. Instead, it would turn the proceedings over to the Senate where Trump would stand trial for the crimes he’s accused of, which, in this case, would be incitement of insurrection.

But Edwards says the House will likely vote to impeach the president saying, “I anticipate they will do so,” by the end of the week.

However, Edwards explains that it’s highly unlikely the Senate moves the impeachment proceedings to trial before President Trump’s term ends at noon on Jan. 20. He says the Senate isn’t set to meet again until Jan. 19, just one day before President-elect Biden is set to take office. But Edwards says that doesn’t mean impeachment proceedings are halted.

“The Senate can have an impeachment trial after the President’s left office,” Edwards explains.

He says the Senate is supposed to begin preparing for and beginning the impeachment trial as soon as the article of impeachment is received from the House. But Edwards explains that the House can choose to wait to hand over the article of impeachment to the Senate.

“President-elect Biden is concerned with impeachment not gobbling up all the space and all the energy,” Edwards says.

He tells us the House will most likely follow President-elect Biden’s lead and not present the Senate with the article of impeachment until key legislation and business, like approving presidential appointees, is taken care of.

Even then, Edwards says the Senate is “highly unlikely” to convict the President. A conviction in an impeachment trial would require more than two-thirds of the Senate to vote in favor of conviction. Republicans and Democrats are evenly split in the Senate with each party controlling roughly 50 seats. Democrats will have control of the Senate through the tiebreaking vote of Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris.

But if they do, Edwards says Democrats will likely move to bar President Trump from ever holding federal office again. A move that would only take a majority vote to pass; something that Democrats just won in the Senate last week.

Watch the full interview in the player above.

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