Fact Check Update:
House Democrats plan to vote Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for his role in last week's riots at the US Capitol, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told House Democrats on Monday on a caucus call, according to sources on the call.
The House will vote Tuesday evening on a resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from power, and then plan to vote Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET on the impeachment resolution, Hoyer said.
Impeachment exists to protect us from future threats rather than to punish prior misconduct. It does not require proof of a crime.
Those who wrote the impeachment clause
grasped the threat posed by leaders who deploy mob violence against officials and institutions of government that stand in their way. Faced with Trump’s conduct — inciting the most destructive assault on our seat of government since the War of 1812
— they would not have hesitated to act.
That’s true even though Trump will leave office in just 12 days. The Constitution entrusts the House with “the sole Power of Impeachment,” and the Senate with “the sole Power to try all Impeachments.” For good reason, the House and Senate have traditionally exercised those powers with considerable due diligence, deliberation, and process
As a matter of principle and precedent, the House must leave no doubt that Trump’s conduct is beyond the pale. He came close to destroying the Capitol in pursuit of his anti-democratic effort to overturn an election; an unequivocal response is called for.
By approving articles of impeachment, the House would give the Senate the option to swiftly convene, try, convict and remove the president — and, upon a separate vote, disqualify him from future officeholding. To be sure, the Senate may lack the willingness or the time to hold a trial. Still, the very pendency of articles — and the possibility of trial and conviction — may itself chill Trump’s worst impulses as he contemplates his final days as president. And it appears as though there is now bipartisan support
in the Senate for serious consideration of articles of impeachment.
In any event, if the House approves articles of impeachment but the Senate does not act before he leaves office, those articles will mark the historical record, serve as a valuable deterrent in the interim and draw a line against future abuses. (Scholars debate
whether an impeachment may proceed against a former official.)
Even a Senate vote to remove Trump would not prohibit him from running in 2024; for the Senate to ban him from the presidency, it would have to hold an additional vote on this question.
The post-presidency pension
Trump would not lose his pension if the House impeached him for his role in inciting the insurrection
-- just as he didn't lose his pension when the House impeached him in 2019
over his effort to use the US' relationship with Ukraine for his own political ends. Rather, under the Former Presidents Act
, he would lose his pension only if the Senate voted to convict him and remove him from office.
Lots of average citizens use the word "impeachment" to refer to impeachment and removal, so we're not bashing Costiloe for this common error, but the statement is incorrect.
Presidents who have not been impeached and removed are entitled
to a lifetime pension equivalent to the annual salary of a head of an executive department. For Trump, like predecessor President Barack Obama
, that would indeed amount to more than $200,000 per year.
Running in 2024
Neither a second House impeachment nor even a Senate vote to convict Trump and remove him from office would prevent him from running again, in 2024 or beyond.
Rather, after two-thirds of senators present voted to remove Trump, a simple majority of senators present would have to approve an additional vote to bar him from the presidency in the future.
The Senate could not skip the conviction-and-removal vote that requires two-thirds of senators and go straight to the simple-majority vote for future disqualification, Ross Garber, an impeachment and political investigations lawyer who teaches at Tulane Law School, told CNN.
There is at least some uncertainty about the disqualification issue, since no president has ever been removed from office by the Senate and only judges
have been disqualified from future office. The disqualification language in the Constitution is "disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States"; Garber noted
that no court or Congress has ever settled the question of whether the presidency counts as an "Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States" from which the Senate is able to ban an impeached and convicted person. (Garber said he personally thinks the presidency does count.)
Secret Service protection
Would Trump lose Secret Service protection if he was removed from office? It is not clear -- to us or to two legal experts we consulted, law professors Stephen Vladeck
and Josh Blackman
There are two relevant laws that use different language on who counts as a "former president."
One law, the Former Presidents Act we mentioned earlier, specifically says that a president who gets booted by the Senate does not count as a "former president" for the purpose of certain post-presidency perks.
However, another law
signed by Obama in 2013
, the Former Presidents Protection Act, simply authorizes lifetime Secret Service protection for former presidents -- without defining "former president" in any particular way.
It is not clear which definition the federal government or the courts would use when it came to deciding whether an impeached and removed Trump should get lifetime Secret Service protection. (The Secret Service did not respond to a request for comment.)
In summary, the tweet was too definitive on a point that is very much up in the air.
Trump was not certain to get a $1 million travel allowance in the first place. In fact, the travel allowance -- technically, a security and travel allowance -- is only for former presidents who are not getting lifetime Secret Service protection
. An official from the office of a former president confirmed to CNN that the former president they work for does not have access to a $1 million security and travel allowance.
In other words: under normal circumstances -- if Trump finished out his term as scheduled and then accepted the lifetime Secret Service protection he would indisputably be entitled to in that case -- there would be no $1 million security and travel allowance for him.
The story of the tweet
When we called Costiloe to tell him that we were planning a fact check and that much of the tweet was inaccurate, he said good-naturedly: "Tear it a new one. Go for it, baby." He said he is "nobody," a man who lives with diabetes in Texas and did the tweet because he had seen the information pop up somewhere on his Facebook feed and "it made me feel good."
He said he was never sure the content was correct and was amazed the tweet went so viral. He said he had only 200 Twitter followers at the time he posted it.
"I don't want to mess up the world. I just wanted to make me feel good," he said. "It turns out it made a lot of people feel good."