Removal of President Trump unlikely, says legal expert

With under 2 weeks left of President Donald Trump's term in office, it is unlikely lawmakers will be able to facilitate his removal in time
Posted at 4:22 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 16:22:18-05

WEST MICHIGAN. — A legal expert here in Grand Rapids says it is unlikely U.S. lawmakers will be able to pull of the removal of President Donald Trump from office before his term is up.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been discussing the potential to remove President Trump in the wake of protesters turned violent breaching the Capitol on Wednesday. Many are blaming the President's speech hours prior during his 'Save America' rally.

“We're going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering much for some of them,” President Trump said early Wednesday.

"Because you will never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

READ MORE: Trump to supporters: 'We will never give up, we will never concede'

Shortly after the speech, rioters began smashing out windows at the Capitol.

Representative Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez said on Twitter late Friday afternoon that Congress will be introducing articles of impeachment on Monday. Saying, in part, "Unfortunately, our country does not have the luxury of time."

READ MORE: Articles of impeachment against President Trump to be introduced Monday

“In our American history, we've never seen anything quite like this," said Devin Schindler, a constitutional law professor at WMU Cooley Law School.

"But at the end of the day, again, it's going to be extraordinarily difficult for anything substantive happen.”

With questions now about whether the President is fit to finish out his term in office, Schindler says lawmakers have several options for attempting to oust him.

"The 1st option, of course, is impeachment," Schindler tells FOX 17. "And there's already been some discussion on that actually occurring. The challenge is, it's hard to impeach the President in 12 days."

The house would have to publish articles of impeachment by majority vote. The articles would then go to the Senate, where they would have to decide in favor of impeachment by a 2/3 majority vote.

"The one benefit of doing it that way is, although the rules here are not entirely clear, the Senate can choose as part of the punishment to say this particular individual can never run for office again," Schindler said.

"The 2nd option is to invoke the 25th Amendment," Schindler said. "The 25th amendment allows the Cabinet and the Vice President, the cabinet by a majority vote, to declare the President unable to discharge the duties of his office."

If lawmakers go down this road, another procedure would then kick in. They would notify the House and Senate of their determination, and at that point the Vice President would take over.

But Schindlers says, "The President can then send a note over to the House and the Senate saying, 'Yes, I am able to discharge my duties,' whereupon he retakes office, gets his powers back."

The Vice President and Cabinet would then have to again decide by majority vote that the President was unfit. Final say would come down to Congress.

The New York Attorney General said this week that her office would begin investigating the President's role in Wednesday's breach of the Capitol.

While the President has seemingly tossed around the idea of issuing himself a pardon, that would only prevent him from facing federal charges. If he was indicted at the state level on charges related to the riot, he could be open to liability.

Though Schindler says that seems unlikely.

"Let's not forget that the president has 1st amendment rights also," Schindler said.

"And the law of the 1st Amendment basically stands for the proposition that unless the speech of the president is intended to incite imminent, lawless conduct, and likely to incite imminent, lawless conduct, his speech, like yours or mine, is protected by the 1st Amendment."

He says it would be difficult for most prosecutors to prove that was President Trump's intent in giving his speech.

"The take-home point for me, though, is how strong our Constitution is and how strong our commitment to our Constitution remains," Schindler said Friday.

"The Constitution puts in guardrails to prevent despotism. Those guardrails worked. I hope folks will focus on the silver lining of this horrific event."

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