President sets precedent: Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial

Though he is no longer in office, Donald Trump’s impeachment trial took place on Feb. 9, 2021.There, he faced charges surrounding the raid at the Capitol, while setting a few historical precedents.


Though he is no longer in office, Donald Trump’s impeachment trial took place on Feb. 9, 2021.There, he faced charges surrounding the raid at the Capitol, while setting a few historical precedents.

Former president Donald Trump has made history, facing charges of inciting an insurrection after his supporters raided and broke into the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6. Earlier that day, Trump gave a speech riddled with violence at a “Save America” rally, calling his followers to make a scene at the United States Capitol, and they did not disappoint. A mob of disgruntled supporters broke into one of the nation’s foremost historic landmarks to protest Trump’s failed reelection, causing thousands of dollars in property damage and five deaths, including four civilians and one police officer. Following this riot, the House of Representatives voted on the “articles of impeachment,” which brought a trial to the Senate. 

Former Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R) and current Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D) served as the spokespeople for their respective parties, and the trial was facilitated by Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts. Each party received a total of 16 hours to argue their position split over four days, beginning on Feb. 10. The questioning stage, a four hour period that began on Feb. 15, is the most unpredictable and extreme phase of the impeachment trial because of the possibility for introduction of new witnesses and information, potentially changing the tide of the trial. After considerable evidence and deliberation, former President Trump was not convicted after final arguments because the Senate failed to vote with a ⅔ majority in favor of his indictment.

“I feel that [a second impeachment] is something that needs to happen,” Jackson Ruddick (11) said. “Nefarious actions call for serious consequences. Even if [Donald Trump] isn’t officially charged, the impeachment trial is still of importance. No one is above the law.”

Conviction is not only removal from office, but also a loss of his $200,000 pension, million dollar per year travel allowance, and lifetime Secret Service detail. However, conviction is extremely unlikely– it has never happened to any president. Before 2021, the only presidents to face impeachment were Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump himself. Trump now faces his second impeachment, becoming the first president in American history to do so. 

“A post presidential impeachment would prove that abuse of power and leadership in any government position is not acceptable,” Ruddick said. “We’re making it clear that leaders in government are to be held accountable for their actions.”

Not only is this the first time a president has been impeached twice, but it is also the first time a president has been impeached after their term has ended. A conviction could prevent him from holding government office in the future, but this is not explicitly stated in the United States Constitution.

“I don’t think [post-presidential impeachment] violates any amendment, … but he is getting a trial for his impeachment and he was in office during his impeachment,” Kyah McKinney (12) said. “Although his term has now expired, I see no reason why he shouldn’t still be accused.”

The second impeachment trial ended with a 57-43 vote to acquit Trump. Though most of the party was expected to vote in favor of Trump’s conviction, only seven Republicans did. 

“He used his power and high position to incite a deadly insurrection against the government,” Ruddick said. “While he may not have explicitly demanded his followers to break into the Capitol, he still egged them to use violence. In fact even after the coup turned deadly, he praised his followers who were all in support to overturn an election he legally lost.”

Whether or not they agree politically, the majority of Americans can agree that the existence of the impeachment process is both necessary and important. It allows the people to use their voices and hold officials accountable for their actions.

“I think impeachment is very important. Americans need to realize that those in power who lie, manipulate their supporters and incite insurrection against their own government are not suitable to hold office,” Ruddick said. “We need to make sure Trump stays out of the White House for good.”