Donald Trump is only the third president in American history to ever be impeached. The impeachment trial, chaired by the Senate, is drawing the attention of numerous American and international public opinion.
Legal experts of the BBC news agency have answered some of the main questions of readers regarding the impeachment trial of the current US president:
Time of the trial?
The impeachment trial of President Trump in the Senate officially opened January 16 with ceremonial procedures. After the Democratic congressman brought the House’s impeachment report to the Senate, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff read aloud the terms of impeachment of President Trump before the Senate.
A few hours later, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was sworn in as chair of the White House leadership trial. Next, each senator took turns taking an oath in front of Mr Roberts, pledging to “be impartial in good faith” when attending the trial to decide whether or not to remove Mr. Trump.
The opening hearing was closed shortly. The main trial will begin at 13:00 on 21/1 US time (1h on 22/1 Vietnam time). During the trial, the senators will hear the parties arguing 6 hours a day and 6 days a week before voting through the final verdict.
Does President Trump have to stand trial in person?
There is no law in the United States that requires the president to stand trial in person in the Senate trial. Two former US presidents who were impeached, Andrew Johnson (1868) and Bill Clinton (1998), did not appear at the trial held by the Senate.
If witnesses are summoned to the impeachment trial of President Trump in the Senate (there is currently no certainty about this), the House impeachment team, which acts as prosecutors in the hearings, may try to ask the White House boss to testify. However, such a decision could spark controversy over privileges, especially the president’s immunity as well as the right to oppose an individual’s self-indictment during the prescribed process. of the American Constitution. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts will be responsible for making a final judgment on this matter.
However, there is another possibility that Mr. Trump will voluntarily come to the hearing to defend himself in court. The White House boss has previously expressed a willingness to do this. However, based on many of his previous Twitter messages and “inconsistent” statements, most observers expressed doubts that the US president would eventually carry out his intent. Moreover, the political advisers for President Trump will undoubtedly oppose his personal trial.
According to a schedule published by the White House, Mr. Trump will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland by the time the Senate impeachment trial begins this week.
How high is Mr. Trump’s risk of being convicted?
Unlike the regular criminal trial, the outcome of the impeachment of the US president will depend on the voting results of all members of the Senate. In the worst case scenario, if two-thirds of the 100 senators (67 senators) vote in favor of condemning the president, Mr. Trump will be deposed and must leave the White House before the end of his term. This scenario is unlikely to happen when Trump’s Republican party is in control of the Senate with 53/100 seats and they generally remain on his side.
If the Senate almost certainly does not vote to depose Mr. Trump, the Democratic presidential effort is futile?
According to long-standing statements made by Democratic politicians, the reason they are conducting the impeachment process of the president even though they know the opportunity to deprive Mr. Trump is very small is because they “feel obligated to arrest the White House leader. responsible for his actions. ” They believe Mr. Trump has abused his power to force Ukraine to investigate its political opponent and if they do not stop it, the president will have the momentum to push forward, “to do even worse things”, could be detrimental to Democrats in the 2020 general election.
Of course, the Democratic push to impeach Mr. Trump contained political elements. Without trying to do this, they risk losing the most loyal supporters. At that time, Democratic politicians either faced numerous challenges in the upcoming primary elections earlier this year or lost the general election in November because voters did not feel motivated enough. to vote or vote to support them.
If the Senate eventually decides to release a pardon, will Mr. Trump have any negative consequences and can he run for re-election?
President Trump can of course run for re-election when the Senate is acquitted in his impeachment trial. Yet, there exists the possibility that the impeachment process could damage the political credibility of White House leaders. Voters may be too fed up with the legal troubles that surround Mr. Trump or stop believing in the incumbent president’s decisions, causing his chances of reelection plummeted.
If Mr. Trump has committed a crime but the Senate is still acquitted, will he be tried by the federal court after his discharge?
There is no presidential law in the United States after going through the impeachment process of Congress, when serving out of office will escape the prosecution for criminal violations during the incumbent. However, there is a difference in the standards of a criminal trial with a impeachment trial in the Senate. The president’s offenses that make him impeached do not necessarily constitute a crime under current US law and vice versa. However, the forced president to resign does not mean he will be exempt from prosecution.
In fact, one of the most controversial stages of the Richard Nixon Watergate (eavesdropping) scandal was when the 37th president of the US resigned to avoid facing impeachment, his successor. his appointment – Gerald Ford made an amnesty for all the crimes he could have committed while in office. Without such an immunity, Mr. Nixon would most likely be prosecuted and tried in federal court.
If Mr. Trump is deposed and Vice President Mike Pence takes over, can Mr. Pence appoint Mr. Trump as vice president?
Although the Senate under Republican control is believed to eventually declare President Trump innocent, there still exists a highly unlikely scenario that there are at least 20 Republican senators. counter, “voting in favor of condemning the White House leader, causing Mr. Trump to take office. In this case, Vice President Mike Pence will take over the White House in place of Mr. Trump until the general election. At that time, Mr. Pence could appoint Mr. Trump as his Vice President because the US Constitution does not prohibit that.
However, the first obstacle is that Mr. Pence’s appointment of Mr. Trump will need the approval of a majority of congressmen in both the House and Senate. Because the opposition Democrats hold a majority of seats in the House, the move is expected to be difficult to “pass through” the legislature.
In addition, theoretically, in addition to voting in support of deposing Mr. Trump, the Senate can also issue a ruling banning him from later holding positions in the government. If the Senate doesn’t do that, there’s nothing stopping Mr. Pence from betting on supporting his “boss”.