CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - With House Democrats priming to vote on articles of impeachment against President Trump this week, a presidential scholar from the University of Virginia says the action carries major historic significance. No matter the outcome of this second impeachment attempt, even introducing it means we’re in uncharted territory.
Presidents Johnson, Clinton, and Trump were all impeached and ultimately not convicted, but this week could mark the first time a sitting president has been tried two separate times. Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at UVA Miller Center of Public Affairs, says a second attempt is actually not about removing Trump from office - because impeachment will not be concluded by Inauguration Day, January 20 - it’s about what happens to him after he leaves the White House.
“He would be barred from running for office again. Another is that an impeachment cannot be pardoned,” Perry explained. “Another would be the penalty of not receiving his pension, and perhaps receiving security, and that sort of thing. So in some ways, it would almost wipe away from him, not the fact that he was president, but any of those perks that come from having been president of the United States.”
This would also be the first time that a president was charged with incitement of insurrection after last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol. Perry says that is also likely part of why some politicians are moving forward with proceedings.
“To send the message that there are lines that need to be drawn in our constitutional system and structure,” she explained. “One that we draw is that a president at any time in his term may not incite the rabble to attempt to, and almost succeed at, violating our Constitution by a violent takeover of the Capitol Building.”
As for how successful a second impeachment might be, Perry says she expects the House will vote to pass it easily – but the two thirds vote needed for conviction in the Senate might be too steep to overcome.