Plenty of unknowns as Trump impeachment proceedings move to Senate
With a Senate impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump still two weeks off, significant issues remain unresolved, according to Virginia Tech political expert Karen Hult.
Democrats are pushing ahead “to hold President Trump accountable for his words seeming to encourage the January 6 assault on the Capitol and for his phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State the previous weekend,” said Hult, a political science professor with expertise in the U.S. presidency and organizational and institutional theory, who serves on the advisory board to the White House Transition Project.
“House Democrats and others maintain that presenting the case publicly in the Senate both highlights the alleged unlawful behavior before a public audience and pushes Republican senators to publicly take stands on former President Trump’s actions,” Hult said.
Even so, the likelihood that enough Republicans vote to convict seems remote.
“Currently, this seems quite unlikely, particularly with the renewed efforts of some Republicans to criticize and support primary challenges to those who supported Trump’s impeachment or who openly challenged claims of a stolen or fraudulent election,” Hult said.
There’s also the question of whether a former president can be impeached after he leaves office.
“Some maintain it would be unconstitutional to do so. Others fear a trial would do nothing other than exacerbate ongoing tensions,” Hult said.
The Senate trial is set to get underway the week of February 8, with President pro tempore of the Senate, Patrick Leahy, expected to preside.