Assuming “Trump impeached” headlines blare out across the Internet – with a victory for the Impeach Trump Now movement if Donald Trump is actually convicted by the Senate – how does removing the current President change the situation for Trump’s opponents in general and the Democratic Party specifically? In fact, does it really have any impact at all given the current makeup of the United States government?
Trump Impeached and Replaced
Impeaching Donald Trump – or any president – is on paper a fairly simple process. One or two votes in the House and Senate and it’s all over for Trump. But in actual practice, it is anything but. In fact, many people fail to realize that impeachment is a process, not an end result. An “impeached” president is not automatically removed from office.
For a president to actually be removed from office under articles of impeachment – something that has never happened in the history of the United States – it would first be necessary for the House of Representatives to impeach Trump now. They would essentially charge him with something and then send the aforementioned articles of impeachment to the Senate so that a trial could be held.
With Trump impeached by the House, the Senate trial would then determine whether Trump was actually guilty of the charges laid out in the impeachment document. Other presidents have faced impeachment before, from Andrew Johnson to Bill Clinton. All of them were acquitted of the charges they faced – although in Johnson’s case he only avoided conviction by one vote.
Successors to Donald Trump
Impeached and then convicted presidents might normally be expected to quickly drop out of the political scene when they had been forced to give up the White House and power, but this scenario doesn’t fit too well with Donald Trump’s personality type and prior behavior. Trump would likely make it into even more of a spectacle as his successor takes over.
And speaking of this successor, Impeach Trump Now proponents might have to face the fact that Trump’s potential replacement could prove to be – at least from the perspective of Democrats and liberals – just as bad or worse than Trump himself. But, as reported by ABC News, polls show 35 percent of the public want to see Trump impeached.
It could be argued that at least Donald Trump doesn’t actually know what he’s doing and so – in a sense – isn’t as dangerous as he might be. But with Trump impeached and removed, we just might get someone who could enact right-wing policies without the gaffes and mistakes Trump is prone to.
After all, the current line of succession for the presidency of the United States – based on the law passed in the 1960s regarding presidential successions – obviously runs to the Vice President first. This would be Republican Mike Pence, whose views on issues like abortion and gay rights are absolutely anathema to virtually all liberals and the vast majority of Democrats.
But even assuming that somehow a successful effort to impeach Trump also brings down Pence – which is highly unlikely – this would put in place as president the current President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Orrin Hatch, who is another conservative Republican.
After this, the line of succession goes to arch-conservative Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, closely followed by newly sworn in Secretary of State and former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson – who, as reported by The Associated Press, happens to be such close friends with Vladimir Putin that the Russian leader gave him a medal.
Republicans now control the White House and – with large majorities – both the House and the Senate, and they will soon install Republicans in every prominent position in government. This means it would virtually require a coup for anyone other than an extremely right-wing Republican to be sitting in the White House prior to the 2021 presidential inauguration. So seeing Donald Trump impeached might not yield the results so many Trump opponents are hoping for.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]