An insurrectionist mob urged by President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on Wednesday, Jan. 6. Five people died.
The days following the insurrection, representatives of both parties called for action against the president. Some, like Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, called for the 25th amendment, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Congress to pursue impeachment.
The 25th amendment would allow Vice President Mike Pence to assume the role of President until President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Pence announced he does not plan on invoking the 25th amendment in a letter to Pelosi released by the White House on Tuesday, Jan 12.
“Under our Constitution, the 25th amendment is not a means of punishment or usurpation. Invoking the 25th amendment in such a manner would set a terrible precedence,” Pence wrote in his letter to Pelosi.
The House will vote on the impeachment of President Trump at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 12, just seven days before the inauguration of Biden.
Political science professor Shelley Hurt explained that impeachment is only an indictment — which is a formal charge for a crime. Trump would remain in office until Jan. 20 with full presidential authorities.
“What an impeachment technically means, as a Congressional power and an authority in the House of Representatives, is an indictment,” Hurt said. “The trial takes place in the Senate. The Senate is the only body that has the authority to convict or acquit.”
Hurt believes that the Democrat-controlled Senate will convict Trump. If the Senate does convict Trump, they could decide to prevent him from running for office again.
Hurt said that the important reason to impeach and convict Trump is so that he cannot run for a second-term.
According to a New York Times article, House Majority leader Mitch McConnell supports Trump’s impeachment. The Times reported McConnell “‘has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him.”
Hurt said that the Republican Party must purge itself from President Trump in order to protect the party. She said that Trump poses a threat to the Republicans because he could divide the party, leading to three major political parties in the United States. America functions as a two-party system.
“The GOP has to separate itself from that movement or the Republican Party will become the way of the wigs … it’s going to split in two,” Hurt said.
Political science professor Micheal Latner agrees with Hurt that the Republican Party is splitting, but he thinks it’s a good thing. Latner said Republicans who didn’t support Trump’s actions could split away from the party, allowing a center-right conservative party to develop. Latner said a multi-party system would be better for American democracy.
“We need a healthier party system,” Latner said. “Having more political parties, that will allow us as a nation to to contain and attenuate the impulses of authoritarianism.”
Latner said a way to achieve a mutli-party system is to allow for mutli-seat districts, so multiple parties can run for a seat, and more than one party can hold a office in a district. Congress could vote to establish a party system like this, he said.
In addition, Latner said he fully supports impeaching Trump.
According to Hurt, about 10 to 20 Republican Senators will vote to impeach Trump.
Hurt commends the Republican Senators that have shown public support to impeach or remove Trump from office.
“This is a time for everyone to choose. We’re not talking about party politics anymore. We’re talking about the constitution and the country,” she said.
Hurt said that the violent pro-Trump mob that attacked the Capitol building was planning to harm, kidnap and kill people.
“We just got so lucky that it wasn’t worse,” she said. “It was an attempted coup full stop. It’s not even a question. It’s not even a debate.”
The mob hung nooses and chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” in front of the Capitol building.
“These were white supremacist lynch mobs. They were in a mob frenzy… It’s just absolutely terrifying,” Hurt said. “He’s still the commander-in-chief. He still has his finger on all these levers of power.”
Hurt said that our nation is still in danger, as the FBI said more armed protests are planned in the days before the Presidential Inauguration at state capitals
“I think that we are in a national crisis, and that we have to hold our breath,” Hurt said.
Before Jan. 6, the Capitol had not been breached since 1814 when British troops set fire to the building.
Political science senior and co-president of the Cal Poly Democrats club Rob Moore said that the Capitol breach was especially concerning.
“The United States Democracy is in crisis. That’s a really big deal,” Moore said.
Moore would have liked to see the 25th amendment as an alternative to impeachment.
“[The 25th amendment would be] coming from Trump’s own people — the people he directly picked, and they’d be saying ‘we don’t trust you to run the county anymore,’” Moore said.
Moore suspected that the 25th amendment would not be invoked because many of the most disloyal Trump cabinet members have already resigned.
Moore fears the possibility of a catastrophic event, like a nuclear attack. He said that he doesn’t think Trump would act rationally.
“[A few] days in Trump’s 2021 is a long time. He could do truly anything,” Moore said.
Moore does not believe that impeachment is the best avenue to pursue, as it prevents Congress from working on other legislation.
“It’s a horrible use of finite resources because all of our elected representatives can only hold so many things at once,” Moore said. “If you spend the first 100 or so days impeaching Donald Trump, that’s like at least 15% of all of his potential useable presidency. I just don’t think it’s a politically savvy thing to do.”
He said impeachment would not help the national sense of unity that President-elect Biden campaigned on.
“As much as the Republican Party stands against what the Democratic Party stands for, if both parties are together and doing well and able to work together American democracy is functioning better,” Moore said.
He believes that this could be a good time to return to some sense of normalcy and build back up our democracy.
“I think this is a really important opportunity for our elected representatives to show courage and be examples and give us something we can look up to,” Moore said.
Moore said he felt as though Republican representatives that were denouncing Trump were jumping on the bandwagon.
“I appreciate the support, but I don’t think it’s going to get them any moral ground … I think it’s too little too late,” he said.
Moore criticized some of the politicians involved in the reaction to the Capitol breach. He said that it’s disconcerting when we see politicians continuing to play games after a national crisis like this.
“Maybe American democracy is not as strong as we thought it was,” he said.
History senior Tate Blas hopes to see Trump impeached on Wednesday morning.
“Impeachment is necessary, not only to set an example and show that the President ought to not act the way he has, but also to stop him from potentially running for office again. He’s wreaked enough havoc, and it would be detrimental to allow him to continue,” Blas wrote in a text message.
She said that historically speaking, Trump’s actions have been appalling.
“A President is supposed to lead the country, set an example. The fact that he tweeted to his supporters ‘go home with love and in peace, remember this day forever,’ is disgusting,” Blas wrote.
Blas wrote that Trump is not looking out for the best interests of the country which is apparent to her by his refusal to concede the election and his willingness to incite violence and perpetuate lies.
“Each of the five former presidents have come forth and said that even if their successor was not a member of their preferred political party, they wanted the new sitting president to succeed because they are now in charge of the country,” she wrote.
The Cal Poly College Republicans club did not respond to an interview inquiry.