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Trump looks set to escape both Article 25 and impeachment conviction

Of the two main tools for holding President Donald Trump accountable for his role in the assault on the Capitol building last week, one has been scuttled by Vice-president Mike Pence, although he was reportedly very angry for Trump’s role in causing the mob to chant “Hang Mike Pence” even as its actions caused the deaths of six people and threatened the lives of the highest lawmakers of the land.

Pence wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that invoking the 25th Amendment “with just eight days left in the President’s term would set a terrible precedent”, as this instrument was designed to “address presidential incapacity or disability,” not be a “means of punishment or usurpation.”

Afterwards the Democrats went ahead to vote 223 to 205 to formally call on Pence to use the 25th Amendment. But the vote is nonbinding and got the support of only one Republican.

Of course House Democrats are proceeding apace with the second instrument at their disposal to try to remove Trump from presidency, having introduced an article of impeachment charging that Trump “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power and imperiled a coequal branch of government.”

But in the current Senate they will need to bring on board 22 Republicans to achieve a conviction. Even though Trump’s role in the attack on the Capitol has moved the ground since Trump’s last impeachment when only Senator Mitt Romney voted with the Democrats, the necessary numbers are still missing. Current Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is continuing to raise barriers as well.

In summary the odds of Trump being thrown out of office before January 20 are looking impossibly high today. This speaks to the Republican party’s continuing proximity to Trump despite how he enabled a dismaying assault on the heart of American democracy. But even if an impeachment conviction is only possible after Trump demits office and the new Senate is sworn in, that path will still be worth pursuing to both send a strong message against his behaviour and to cut off his future in American politics.

Read also: Pence rejects invoking 25th Amendment to oust Trump

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