Impeachment looms as US continues to grapple with Capitol riot

A second impeachment charge has been put forward by the Democratic Party against outgoing President Donald Trump who is due to depart from office next Thursday 21 of January. Since the storming of the Capitol building in Washington on January 6, the president has remained isolated in the White House while Democrats and Republicans prepare for a historic second impeachment charge against him. President Trump is accused of inciting a riot against elected government officials at a rally held in Washington DC as Senators were processing the result of the November election. During the rally, the president urged his supporters to march on the Capitol Building, a beacon of democracy where senators gather to decide on legislature at the seat of the U.S. federal government. Trump made numerous aggressive remarks towards senators and republican allies including vice-president Mike Pence in an attempt to encourage officials to reverse the election vote. The President told his supporters to “fight like hell” and that “We will never give up. We will never concede,” to which the crowd chanted “We will stop the steal!”

The resulting riot caused the deaths of five people including a woman who was shot in the building by security and a police officer who later died from his injuries. In December 2019, Trump became only the third president to face impeachment, charged with two articles: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He was cleared of both in February 2020 but less than a year later, the president has been formally charged with one count of “incitement of insurrection” following the Capitol Hill riot making him the only U.S. president to face impeachment twice. Furthermore, not since British forces laid siege to Washington and almost razed the building to the ground during the War of 1812 has there been a hostile attack on the Capitol building. U.S. officials and world leaders have condemned the riot with former-president Barack Obama stating, “History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation.” U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded with disdain that “in so far as he encouraged people to storm the Capitol, and in so far as the president consistently has cast doubt on the outcome of a free and fair election, I believe that that was completely wrong.”

Initially, Mike Pence came under pressure to support using the 25th amendment, which has never previously been invoked, to remove Trump through a clause stating that a President would be removed of their powers should they be unfit for office. If invoked, members of the cabinet can decide to remove a president under such circumstances but Pence, a stalwart loyalist under Trump until he was ordered to overturn the election result, has made no attempt to support the resolution and Republicans have since blocked Democratic efforts in the House. As a result, Democrats have put into motion a process to impeach Trump citing “incitement of insurrection” based on articles of the 14th amendment. If Trump is found to have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion”, he would be barred from holding any future office, including seeking a second term as president in 2024.

The riot has come at a time when it seemed the U.S. could not be more politically divided with baseless allegations of election fraud from President Trump and the Republican Party spurring on partition across the country. Since the attempted coup at the Capitol, the president has isolated himself from advisors and been banned from Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. All but abandoned by his political allies and amidst the fallout of a day that will live in infamy, Trump has refused to attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on 20 January. A day on which Trump supporters are planning another march in the United States capital.

Image credit: Blink O’fanaye on Flickr