Outgoing US President Donald Trump has formally been accused of actively encouraging rioting and violence at the Capitol.
Early on Tuesday (Australian time), Democrats introduced two resolutions to have Mr Trump removed from office before his last day in the White House on January 20.
The article of impeachment brought before Congress accuses Mr Trump of using his speech at a “Save America” rally on January 6 to encourage “rioters and insurrectionists to ‘march on the Capitol’ and ‘fight'”.
He is also accused of “at least three attempts to intervene in the lawful vote counting and certification process in Georgia”.
That charge refers to several claims Mr Trump made in his speech that were deemed false. Among the misleading statements the president had made was the unproven allegation that the election was “stolen” and that he had actually won the 2020 vote.
Republicans blocked the first resolution introduced to Congress, which called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives is expected to debate on the article of impeachment as they accuse Mr Trump of “incitement of insurrection”.
If the House votes to impeach him, reports suggest the soonest the Senate could begin a trial that decides whether or not to convict him would be Inauguration Day, leaving him to spend the remainder of his presidency in office.
No US president has ever been impeached twice.
Given his days in the White House are numbered, what could result from a second impeachment?
For starters, it could stop Mr Trump from running for the job again.
He has already flirted with the idea of being a candidate in the 2024 presidential election, telling a White House reception in early December that if he couldn’t overturn the November election result, “I’ll see you in four years”.
How it would work
In December 2019, House Democrats brought two articles of impeachment against Mr Trump, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The Republican-controlled Senate acquitted him of both charges in February 2020, meaning he wasn’t going anywhere.
This time, House Democrats will introduce a single article of impeachment against Mr Trump, citing “incitement of insurrection”.
This will charge him with “wilfully inciting violence against the government of the United States”, the article of impeachment states.
At a “Save America” rally last week, Mr Trump told his supporters to march to the Capitol to “see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves throughout history, throughout eternity”.
If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country any more.”
– Donald Trump in Washington DC on January 6
When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules.’’
– Donald Trump in Washington DC on January 6
The fallout from the riots that ensued is not just political; it has had very real personal consequences for Americans.
On Monday it was revealed that 51-year-old US Capitol Police officer Howard Liebengood, who responded to the rioting at the Capitol, died by suicide on Saturday.
He is the second Capitol officer to die following last week’s riots. Four other people also died.
In order for Mr Trump to be convicted of – as Mr Biden put it – “inciting a mob to attack the Capitol”, two-thirds (at least 67 out of 100) of senators need to be on board.
Given the last Senate trial took almost two months, the chance of this Senate trial finishing before inauguration day is slim.
Without a conviction, Mr Trump will be free to run for President in 2024.
What else Trump stands to lose
The Former Presidents Act of 1958 lists the perks a president gets after leaving office.
That includes an annual, lifetime pension of about $US200,000 ($259,757).
Every fiscal year, he could travel anywhere and have expenses of up to $US1 million ($1.3 million) paid for.
Public funds will also be spent on paying for members of the US Secret Service to protect him.
For Mr Trump to be ineligible for these benefits, he will have to be removed from office.
The Former Presidents Act explains that a president is not entitled to these benefits if they were terminated by removal pursuant to Article II of Section 4 of the Constitution.
It reads: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanours.”
That means if Mr Trump is not removed from office by January 20, he may still be entitled to an annual pension, free travel and personal protection.