Censures, impeachments historically take longer than 12 days

Mob Storms U.S. Capitol

DENVER (KDVR) — Historically speaking, it takes much longer than two weeks to chastise or oust the executive of the world’s most powerful nation.

Since a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, some of Colorado’s elected officials have led the charge to either chastise Trump or remove him from office entirely. Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette Tweeted she would impeach him immediately.

Colorado’s Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, dismiss calls for impeachment as the kind of partisan political theater the Democratic party has engaged in since Trump was elected in 2016.

“President Trump has exhibited poor behavior, and his refusal to concede his loss in the election ratcheted up the rhetoric and antics on both sides of the aisle,” wrote Rep. Ken Buck in a statement. “We do not have to defend all of his actions to defend the Constitution of the United States.”

However, he wrote, “An impeachment at this moment, less than two weeks before our new president will be sworn into office, is a disgrace to our Constitution, to the American people, and to the institutions we cherish.”

It may be a moot point from either the Democratic or Republican angles. Historical data casts some doubt on whether an impeachment or forcible removal could even take place in the short timeline before President-Elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

Three methods of either removing or chastising Trump have been suggested in the wake of the Capitol riots: formal censure, impeachment and Amendment 25 provisions.

Including three medical emergencies, the average historical timeline for presidential impeachments, censures or Amendment 25 invocations is about 49 days.

House Democrats have called to censure Trump regarding his phone call to Georgia’s highest election official asking to “find” more ballots in his favor. Broadly, censure means the expression of an opinion of disapproval which would not result in Trump’s removal.

Amendment 25 was added to the U.S. Constitution in 1967 and has only been used half a dozen times since then, and never in the manner threatened in 2021.

Three of the six invocations of Amendment 25 involved a president ousting and installing vice presidents. The other three each concerned George Bush Sr. or Jr. giving temporary presidential power to the vice president in advance of medical procedures.

Only three impeachment proposals have resulted in impeachment proceedings, and none of those have resulted in convictions.

In each case – impeachments, censures and invocations of Amendment 25 – proceedings after initiation have taken six weeks at minimum.

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