Second bid to impeach Trump may throw more petrol on an already out of control political fire

To impeach, or not to impeach? That is the question as America’s political horror show enters its next stage.

The chorus of Democrats baying for action is growing, as is anger at the 45th president who is accused of inciting a mob to ransack the country’s seat of democracy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised decisive action and articles of impeachment are ready to go before the house next week.

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It would be an explosive denouement to an explosive presidency, which has blown up norms and may have created lasting divisions.

The choreography of such a drama, however, raises huge political, constitutional, and legal questions.

And for America they are lines that have never been written before – there is simply no precedent.

If he is impeached for a second time, Donald J Trump would be the first president in the history of the Republic to face such ignominy.

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Impeachment has historically always been a drawn-out process involving committees, witness testimony, and the gathering of evidence.

There’s no doubt there is time for the “indictment” aspect to go before the House of Representatives, where it would likely pass with a simple majority.

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What happens next is far more complicated and controversial.

The Senate will not sit until 19 January. The inauguration is on 20 January.

One theory is that the impeachment articles will not be put before the Senate before Joe Biden assumes the presidency.

But that would mean Donald Trump would, even if it succeeded, no longer be commander-in-chief when the Senate, which acts like a jury, casts its vote.

And if it got that far it is almost certainly destined to fail. Impeachment in the upper chamber needs two thirds of senators to convict and it’s unlikely that many Republicans would cross the floor.

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But the argument to go ahead anyway for many Democrats is a strong one.

Even if it fails it would be another stain on Mr Trump’s record and would act as a warning to other leaders of the limits of presidential power.

But it is not without dangers.

Such an action is likely to be messy, and in the febrile atmosphere of the disunited states of America, it may throw more petrol on a political fire which is already dangerously out of control.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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