Former President Donald Trump is the first U.S. president to be impeached twice by the U.S. House of Representatives.
When the House managers delivered the article of impeachment to the Senate last week, a trial on the charge was triggered, according to Article II Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution.
But since before the article of impeachment on a charge of incitement of insurrection passed in the House, calls have been heard from several in Congress for a sanction that would be something less than an impeachment of a president who is no longer in office.
The chance that Trump will be convicted in the Senate seems remote as 17 Republicans would have to join all 50 Democrats in voting for the conviction. When Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, called a vote to declare Trump’s impeachment unconstitutional last week, only five GOP senators voted against the motion.
In the face of an unlikely vote to convict Trump, Republican Sen. Susan Collins, Maine, and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, are said to be working on a bipartisan resolution to censure Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 riot.
Delaware Sen. Chris Coons told reporters last week that the resolution would include elements of the 14th Amendment, an amendment that can lead to a government official’s disqualification from holding office in the future.
What happens if Trump is censured? Here is a look at the process.
What is a censure?
Censure of a president by the U.S. Senate is merely a statement of disapproval over a president’s action, in other words, a sort of public shaming.
The authority for the Senate to censure can be found in Article I, section 5 of the U.S. Constitution. It gives both chambers the ability to “punish its members for disorderly behavior.”
How many types of censures are there?
There are two types of censure resolutions: one that targets members of the House or Senate, and one that targets the executive and judicial branches of government.
While Congress can punish its own members with censure, it has no power to punish a president.
Does a censure have any legal ramifications?
No, a censure is a resolution or expression of opinion. It is not a legal action.
What is the difference between censure and impeachment?
Censure and impeachment are very different measures.
Impeachment is a process that can end in the removal from office of a government official. The process begins in the House where articles of impeachment are brought and it ends in the Senate where a trial is held to hear the charges and to hear the president’s response to those charges.
A two-thirds vote of the Senate is required to convict a president in an impeachment trial. It takes a simple majority of the Senate for a censure motion to pass.
No action, short of having the label of being censured, is attached to the censure process.
If a president is convicted in an impeachment trial, he or she may be removed from office. Beyond that, a person who is convicted in an impeachment trial faces the possibility of being barred from ever running for public office again.
A vote to bar someone from seeking office in the future requires a simple majority vote of the Senate.
What happens if Trump is censured?
A censure is a public rebuke of the actions of a government official, but that is where the action ends.
Trump will be free to run for public office again if he chooses.