With just days remaining in his term, House Democrats have introduced an article of impeachment in Congress charging President Trump for a second time with committing “high crimes and misdemeanors,” this time for his role in inciting a mob that stormed the Capitol last week.
Impeaching a president with less than two weeks left in his term presents an extraordinary challenge. But if Mr. Trump is impeached in the House and subsequently convicted by a two-thirds vote in the Senate and removed from office, the Senate could then vote to bar him from ever holding office again.
The Constitution says that the Senate, after voting to convict an impeached president, can consider “disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.” This would be determined by a second vote, requiring only a simple majority of senators to successfully disqualify him from holding office in the future. Such a vote could be appealing not just to Democrats but also possibly to many Republicans who have set their sights on the presidency.
Mr. Trump, who is said to be contemplating another run for president in 2024, has just nine days remaining in office, presenting an impeachment timeline for congressional Democrats that is tight, but not impossible. As soon as the House votes to adopt an article of impeachment, it can immediately transmit it to the Senate, which must promptly begin a trial.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has said that an impeachment trial could not effectively be convened before Mr. Trump leaves office, but Constitutional scholars say that a Senate trial and a vote for disqualification could happen after Jan. 20.
Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, suggested that the Senate trial be delayed several months into President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidency. And Mr. Biden said he had spoken to House and Senate Democrats about whether it would be possible to “bifurcate” Congressional business, splitting days between impeachment and confirming his nominees and passing his agenda.
But because of the stakes and the lack of a precedent for disqualifying a president from future office, the matter would probably go before the Supreme Court.