Trump could now could be barred from ever running for, or holding, public office again.
The president was impeached in 2020 over claims he abused his power by holding back aid to Ukraine in the hope that its leader would investigate Joe Biden, his political rival. He was impeached by the House of Representatives but acquitted by the Senate.
The US Democrats could delay an impeachment trial in the Senate until after Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, a top official said, freeing up the incoming president to pursue his early agenda.
What is impeachment?
Impeachment is the process by which Congress puts certain officials, namely the president, on trial.
The US constitution lays out a broad scope of offences that can lead to impeachment: “Treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
If a President is convicted of impeachment, he is immediately removed from office.
What would it mean for Donald Trump?
If Trump is convicted by the Senate before the end of his term, which is January 20, then he would be removed from office. However, given the timeframe is very narrow, it is more likely his Senate trial will be after he leaves. In that instance, the Senate may also vote on banning him from ever running for public office again.
If Trump is barred from ever running for, or holding, public office again, it would end any possible talk of a comeback run in 2024.
The US Senate has the power to prevent Trump from doing so, and a vote on this would only need to be passed by a simple majority. There is precedent for the Senate preventing public officials from seeking office again after impeachment. Judges Robert Archbald (in 1913) and West H Humphreys (in 1862) were both been banned from seeking office after impeachment, although this fate has never befallen a President before.
A vote on this can only take place after an impeachment vote.
Trump may also lose access to a raft of public benefits he would otherwise be entitled to.
According to the 1958 Former Presidents Act, he would be denied his $200,000 annual pension, a $1 million annual travel stipend and extra funding for his future staff. However, thanks to an order signed by his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump will still be guaranteed his lifelong secret service detail.
If Trump attempted to pardon himself before leaving office, something that no president has attempted before, the situation would become significantly more murky.