What does impeachment mean? Will Donald Trump be sent to prison?

Donald Trump 'must be removed from office' says Scaramucci

On Monday the Democrats launched the first step in forcing President Donald Trump from office, introducing an article of impeachment which accuses him of inciting insurrection following the violent attack on the Capitol last week. The House of Representatives – controlled by the Democrats – is expected to look into the article as soon as Wednesday.

If the article passes, Mr Trump would be the only president in United States history to be impeached twice.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday the US House of Representatives will consider 25th Amendment legislation to remove President Trump from office after Republicans blocked their initial attempt to bring it up, and then move forward on impeachment legislation.

Ms Pelosi said are calling on Vice President Mike Pence to respond within 24 hours following the passage of the legislation which asks him to mobilise Mr Trump’s cabinet to remove Mr Trump under the 25th amendment.

Ms Pelosi said in a statement: “As our next step, we will move forward with bringing impeachment legislation to the Floor.

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“The president’s threat to America is urgent, and so too will be our action.”

Thousands of supporters of Mr Trump stormed the Capitol last week, forcing lawmakers who were certifying Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory into hiding in a harrowing assault which left five dead.

The violence came after Mr Trump urged supporters to march on the Capitol at a rally.

The President repeated false claims, saying his resounding defeat in the November 3 election was illegitimate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, many of her fellow Democrats and a handful of Republicans say the Republican president should not be trusted to serve out his term, which ends on January 20.

What does impeachment mean?

Impeachment is a mechanism which permits Congress to remove power from a sitting president.

Impeachment allows Congress to put certain officials, including the president, on trial.  

The US constitution states a broad range of offences which can lead to impeachment as “Treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” 

Once impeachment takes place, a president’s powers are revoked and the Constitutional Court must decide whether the President should be removed from office.

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This is not the first time President Trump has faced impeachment, having previously been impeached in 2019.

Mr Trump was impeached by the US House of Representatives on December 18, 2019.

The articles of impeachment charged him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

However, while the House impeached him, the Republican-run Senate later acquitted the president and so he remained in office.

If Mr Trump is successfully impeached, he would be prevented from ever running for or holding public office again.

And so any possible hopes for a run for the presidency in four years time would be quashed.

He would also lose access to any public benefits he qualifies for as a former president.

The 1958 Former Presidents Act explains this would include losing the $200,000 (£147,865.00) annual pension and $1million (£739,325.00) travel package, as well as any extra money for staff.

He would, however, keep his secret service security detail for life.

Will Donald Trump be sent to prison?

Following events from the Capitol and Mr Trump’s ban from most social media networks for comments which were seen to rile up those who laid siege to the historic building, some have been calling for charges to be pressed against the President.

And the Justice Department said last week it would not rule out possible charges against Mr Trump for the violent attack on the Capitol.

Members of his inner circle may also face repercussions for the incident.

Michael Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, told reporters: “We are looking at all actors, not only the people who went into the building.”

When asked if this included the President, Mr Sherwin said: “We’re looking at all actors.

“If the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they’re going to be charged.”

The result of any charges and subsequent trial would then determine if anyone is jailed over the attack at the Capitol.

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