Donald Trump impeachment: What happens next?
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Donald Trump impeachment: What happens next?

ON WEDNESDAY Donald Trump was impeached for the second time in just over a year.

Following last week's Capitol riots - where a number of Trump supporters stormed Congress in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden's election victory - the US House of Representatives voted to impeach the president in a 232-197 vote.

The House of Representatives is Democrat controlled, but it's interesting to note that 10 Republican party members voted in favour of impeachment, joining the 222 Democrats who all voted the same way.

But with mere days to go before Trump's term in the Oval Office ends, a number of questions have been raised about what exactly is going to happen next?

Here's everything you need to know:

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Senate trial

Now that Trump has been impeached by the House, he will go to trial in the Senate.

This will happen once House Speaker Nancy Pelosi officially submits the article of impeachment to the Senate.

Crucially, the Senate is Republican controlled. What this means is that if all Republican senators vote in favour of Mr Trump - as is typical - he will be acquitted, which is what happened during his Senate trial in February 2020.

However, things might not be so straight forward this time. 10 Republicans voted to impeach Trump in the house, and it's likely that the president may have lost Republican supporters in the Senate too.

Unlike in the House, where a simple majority of votes is enough to impeach, in the Senate two-thirds of the 100 members must vote to convict for him to be removed from office.

So while a conviction is still unlikely, it's extremely difficult to tell how much party support Mr Trump may have lost since last year's trial, particularly with his presidency coming to end in less than a week.

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When will the trial happen?

The Senate is currently in recess and isn't scheduled to return until January 19 - Trump's final day as president.

On January 20, Joe Biden will be officially inaugurated, so the likelihood of a trial happening before Mr Trump leaves office is very small.

However in theory, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - who notably publicised his support for Trump's impeachment this week - could call the Senate back early to hold an emergency session, though McConnell has already ruled this out.

Even if the Senate moved swiftly, there's no way it could conduct an entire trial before Trump left office.

The three previous presidential impeachment trials have lasted 83 days, 37 days and 21 days.

Post-presidency trial

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No president has ever faced an impeachment trial after leaving office. Some constitutional scholars even claim that an ex-president cannot be tried by the Senate. But the House has impeached him, and the Senate has previously tried former senators and judges, so there is loose precedent to apply to Trump's situation.

What happens if Trump is convicted?

If the House and the Senate both vote to convict Mr Trump, then senators will have the option of barring him from ever running for president again, amid rumours that he will campaign in 2024.

This could be a popular incentive for some Republicans who may feel Trump attempting to run again in 2024 could derail their chances of defeating the Democrats.

If convicted by the Senate, Mr Trump could also lose his rights to receive a pension, a yearly travel allowance and a security detail, which are normally afforded to former presidents.

In order for that motion to pass, the Senate only needs a majority of its members to vote for it, instead of the two-thirds required for the initial impeachment.