The Handbook
The Handbook

Season Two of Impeachment will air today, with Donald Trump coming out of retirement to reprise his starring role, the US Congress back as supporting cast and the QAnon Shaman nowhere to be seen.

Yes, former Apprentice star Donald Trump’s going to make history as the first president in history to be impeached twice, and with little doubt the first to be acquitted twice by the Senate. And most of us are wondering, what’s going on America?

Okay, Impeachment 101: WTF is impeachment?

Good question. It’s basically the American parliament holding a trial to find out if a holder of public office, this time the former president, is guilty of misconduct.

It’s meant to be incredibly shameful, so much so that even Richard Nixon resigned rather than face it, and it’s very rarely employed, but Donald Trump’s managed to rack up two of them within a year, which is swift going.

Yes, I’ve got serious deja vu going on…

So, quick ‘Previously on Impeachment’, Donald Trump was impeached in 2020 for trying to lean on Ukraine to dig up (or make up) dirt on his presidential opponent Joe Biden. Which is, like, really illegal.

Once impeached, the case was sent from the House of Representatives (like the House of Commons here) to the Senate (their version of the Lords, but with less gold or ermine or inbreeding). Where, Trump’s loyalists ensured that he wasn’t removed from office. Which was kinda okay, because the electorate did if for them eight months and a pandemic later.

Or did they?

Well exactly. Donald Trump was fairly and decisively beaten by Joe Biden in the November election. But with an ego simply unable to admit that a near octogenarian cardboard cutout could possibly have trounced such a deeply unpopular president, blamed for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of American citizens because of his deep seated belief that masks are a bit wimpy, Trump decided to deny it happened.

But did it?

Er, yeah. His claiming the sky isn’t blue act didn’t work, and over 60 lawsuits were tossed out of court before the judges, many of them hand picked by Trump himself exactly for a moment like this, could stop guffawing.

And that’s where it all gets a bit dark…

Okay, go on…

President Trump may have lost the election but a quirk (read fault) in the US system is that the defeated president remains in power for a further two months. This presumably is the length of time it would take to cross the country on a donkey two centuries ago, and nobody bothered to update the timeline.

But this gave Trump plenty of time to try every single method of somehow keeping the presidency for himself, first by trying to persuade people that millions of fake votes were cast (which didn’t stick) to persuading officials to fake votes the other way (which didn’t stick) to getting the Electoral College to overturn the result (which didn’t stick), to getting Congress and his Vice President Mike Pence to over turn the result (which clearly wasn’t going to stick, which is why he tried…) to overthrow the government by force. Say whaaaat?

This feels like the plot of a really really bad TV show…

Oh, so you’ve seen Designated Survivor then? Yeah, so he called a massive rally of his gun totin’ supporters, said words to the effect of ‘wouldn’t it be a shame if someone stormed the Capitol and killed all my opponents. And Mike Pence?’ and then went to the White House to watch it on the telly with Rudi Giuliani and Don Junior.

And they all went home peacefully?

Exactly. After erecting a working gallows, storming the Capitol Building for the first time in history and charging round the corridors armed with guns, pipe bombs and cable ties searching for the lawmakers like Nancy Pelosi and Trump’s own VP Pence.

Four policemen and two rioters died in the siege. Congressmen and women cowered in safe rooms, protestors stormed the chambers of power and ransacked lawmakers’ offices. It was developing world coup sort of stuff.

So they impeached him again?

Quite. President Trump was impeached for the ‘high crime’ of insurrection. A punchy charge. And the case passed to the Senate.

In the meantime the ‘peaceful’ transition of power from Trump to President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris occurred and now ex-President Trump stands trial, starting today.

Is that weird? That he’s no longer in office?

No, but it’s expected to be a main plank of his defence. In reality many judges and lawmakers have had their impeachment trials held once they’ve left office. After all, otherwise there’d be nothing to stop politicians committing a crime, then quitting office and claiming they can’t now be prosecuted.

And what happens if he’s found guilty?

He will certainly be barred from running for office, and he’ll lose a lot of perks of being an ex-president, like his pension. Which he might be needing the way his businesses appear to be headed…

And how likely is it that he’ll go down for this?

Don’t expect to see him in an orange jump suit any time soon. Finding Trump guilty requires a 66/33 ‘supermajority’ to pass. And as the Democrats have 50 votes, they need another 17. And that’s a tall order.

A handful of Senators are on record as saying they will or may vote to convict the former president, but not nearly enough.

So there’s no hope?

Never say never, that’s how we got Trump in the first place. But it’s unlikely. Technically there are a few Republican senators who have a real motivation to see Trump barred from future office, the people he’ll be up against in primaries for 2024, the likes of Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton, but it’s probably wishful thinking to hope they’ll vote.

But there’s nothing stopping them abstaining. And it only takes a handful of abstentions and a few Republican votes and perhaps the margin looks tighter. But nobody’s holding their breath.

So I’ve just read down to the bottom of this article to discover that nothing’s actually likely to happen?

Basically, yes. Sorry. Read something about Chris Whitty instead. Or Valentine’s deliveries.

But this is historic. That he’ll be the first President to be impeached twice (and only the third to be impeached after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton) and that he’ll likely be the first to have Senators vote against him.

But mainly expect this to be the first step toward his rehabilitation within the Republican Party, and the start of a four year road to running in the 2024 election…

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