UD expert weighs in: What’s next in the Senate

Miami Valley News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)– Now that the House has voted to impeach the president, there are questions about what happens next.  There is an influx of misinformation circulating online about what a senate conviction would mean for the president, including his benefits and ability to run again in 2024. A local expert breaks down facts from fiction. 

“Wednesday was such a dark and sad day in America’s history and today doesn’t make it any better, said University of Dayton Political Science Professor Daniel Birdsong. “Today was a sad day in some respects because it’s come to this.”

 President Donald Trump has become the first president to be impeached twice during his time in the oval office. Experts say even once President-Elect Joe Biden takes office, Trump can still face consequences if the senate finds him guilty of the charges.

“The 20th is the beginning of the Biden administration but it doesn’t end the trial, whenever that might convene,” said Birdsong.

Breakdown of consequences:

  • If Trump is only impeached by the House and not charged and removed from office by the Senate, he will still receive his pension. If the Senate votes to convict him and remove him from office, he will lose it.
  • It’s unclear whether Trump will lose the lifelong Secret Service detail if he is convicted. There are two acts, the Former Presidents Act and the Former Presidents Protection Act, introduced by Obama in 2013- don’t align. The former says any president removed by the Senate isn’t considered a ‘former president’ and therefore won’t receive the perks. However the latter one authorises Secret Service protection for the rest of the former president’s life without defining ‘former president’.
  • A ban on Trump running for office again requires an additional vote in the Senate, even if he is found guilty and removed.
  •  Only those who receive the lifetime Secret Service detail do not have access to the $1 million travel allowance.

 With a second impeachment a week before Trump’s presidency ends, experts believe the House of Representatives may be sending a message to future presidents.

“Anyone who holds that office, no one is above the law and there are consequences to one’s behavior,” said Birdsong. “It’s important for the loser to say these things, that this was a free and fair election, that I lost the election and congratulate the victor. It’s a signal to the rest of the country that this is our process, this is what happened and move on.”   

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel says he will not call the Senate back early for an impeachment trial, which means lawmakers won’t be able to move forward with the process until January 19th at the earliest. Though, it’s more likely the trial would start after President-Elect Biden takes office. 

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) issued the following statement after the House impeachment vote today:

“President-Elect Biden has rightly said he wants to set a new tone of greater unity as his administration begins. All of us should be concerned about the polarization in our country and work toward bringing people together. If the Senate conducts an impeachment trial, among my considerations will be what is best to help heal our country rather than deepen our divisions.”

We’re expecting to hear from Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown on Thursday.

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