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USF Political Prof Discusses President Trump's Looming Impeachment Uncertainties

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - As we get closer to the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden, the country's eyes are on whether or not President Donald Trump will be impeached in the United States Senate. CW44 News At 10 spoke with a Political Professor at USF for a better understanding of the uncertain road ahead.

On Tuesday, for the first time in our country's history, the House of Representatives voted to impeach the president for a second time. It's the historic nature of this move which has Dr. Susan MacManus, political professor emerita at University of South Florida responding, "We're in uncharted territory. Even the professionals are having to go to the books and look at different lawsuits and court verdicts and case law."

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One week after the siege on the United States Capitol that left 5 dead, President Donald Trump is in the spotlight. "We are sort of traveling through this, not knowing how it's going to work," said Dr. MacManus. Adding that the big question is: When will the senate trial begin for his impeachment? "That's a big question mark, because right now, Democrats are debating on when to bring it forward."

Dr. MacManus says some politicians are arguing weather or not to begin the Senate trial immediately, or 100 days after President-elect Biden is takes office. Those who wish to delay the impeachment wish "to get the Senate to confirm [Mr. Biden's] cabinet members and also for him to hit the ground running because he's promised the people of the United States that he would bring people together and quickly address the pandemic and the economy."

On the flip side of the argument, "others are saying, 'No, we have to hit the ground running, do it now. Get it out of the way'," said Dr. MacManus. She says the next step is for the U.S.  House of Representatives to pass the articles of impeachment to the Senate. "The Senate then takes it up, we don't know when, they take it up, they have a trial. Each side has a right to present their arguments. There's a vote. It would take two-thirds vote to actually convict."

Dr. MacManus says the goal for many politicians is to prevent President Trump from running for the position again, but an extra step needs to be taken to achieve that goal. "First, there would have to be a two-thirds vote to convict. Secondly, there would need to be a vote to keep that person from running for office again."

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If the President isn't convicted in the Senate, Dr. MacManus says politicians are considering other options. "Now, they are talking about a different avenue where they could keep the person from running again, which would be the 14th Amendment, the third part of that," which states:

'No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.'

Dr. MacManus continues, "And if that doesn't work, some are talking about bringing criminal charges [against Mr. Trump]." No president in U.S. history has faced prosecution for actions taken in office after he stepped down. Biden has stated he would let the Justice Department decide whether to take legal action against Mr. Trump.

The Senate is set to reconvene on January 19, 2021, but a trial date is still up for debate.


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