Political science, history, law experts offer tools to unpack impeachment

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It was basically a re-run of the history we watched on our screens one year ago, but with different articles and more bipartisan support, as President Donald Trump was impeached, again, by the United States House of Representatives Wednesday.

Ahead of the president’s first impeachment in 2020, we took you to Blount Mansion in Downtown Knoxville. William Blount was a signer of the Constitution, a United States Senator, and the first federal official to be impeached. Like Blount, Trump avoided conviction by the Senate. His second trial, like Blount’s first, is likely to occur after he leaves office.

This isn’t lost on lawmakers, according to University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s top political science professor, Richard Pacelle, Jr. He explained if he’s impeached and convicted, then the Senate can say he can never run for office again with a simple-majority vote.

Pacelle also noted this impeachment effort is backed by many more Republicans than the previous one, which was virtually party-line votes.

“Having one party do this impeachment, I think, is going to be a problem, a question of political motivations.,” he said. While he believes it’s possible some Republicans will support impeachment in the Senate, he believes it’s unlikely the Democrats secure the 17 required for conviction.

Pacelle further explained U.S. senators may face less political pressure, as their terms are six years compared to two by members of the House: “If you’re a moderate conservative, your fear isn’t that a Democrat is going to come in and beat you. It’s that a Republican is going to come in the primary and beat you,” he said.

Whether the president’s base will support him, and his hand-picked candidates going forward is yet to be determined. Regardless of what happens at the polls, Pacelle sees four political parties: the Trump and moderate wing of the Republican party, and the moderate Biden and progressive wings of the Democratic party.

Daniel Feller, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Tennessee, explained when it comes to how history will remember President Trump and his four years, we’ll have to see.

He said history history isn’t determined by one person and lacks a definitive verdict, but it’s more dependent on an opinion consensus, which forms overtime. Some things, including the American Civil War, never reach a consensus of opinion.

“There are people like me who will say it’s about slavery,” he said. “A whole lot of people will tell you it wasn’t.”

Will President Trump be primarily remembered as the President who was impeached twice?

“Definitely, if he’s removed,” Feller said. “No other president has been removed… If President Trump is not removed, he may be a contested memory,” he added. He could be remembered differently among those who approve and disapprove of his four years at the helm.

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