Just a few short months ago, US President Donald Trump was brashly confident of winning the November 3 election in a landslide and securing “four more years” in the White House.
He went into the election campaign with his signature swagger, despite endless polls placing Democrat Joe Biden as the clear favourite.
And the 74-year-old maintained the bluster even as the true extent of his crushing defeat emerged, refusing to concede and instead stirring up his most fanatical supporters with repeated – and unfounded – claims the election had been stolen from him via widespread election fraud.
Sadly, the world now knows how that played out.
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On January 6, thousands of Mr Trump’s most fervent fans – among them, white supremacists and right-wing conspiracy theorists – stormed the Capitol building in an act of “domestic terrorism” which would leave five dead, scores injured and a nation bitterly divided.
And as a consequence, a nightmare, triple blow scenario the Trump team would have deemed all but inconceivable not too long ago is now fast becoming a reality.
TRUMP’S TRIPLE BLOW
In December 2019, Donald Trump became the third US President to be impeached after being accused of an abuse of power and obstruction after asking Ukraine to dig dirt on political rival Joe Biden and his son.
He was ultimately cleared – but this week, he became the first President to be impeached twice after being charged with “incitement of insurrection” over the Washington DC siege.
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In a sign of just how toxic his presidency had become, a number of Republicans also moved against him – but the historic second impeachment is just the start of the catastrophes potentially now facing the former reality TV star.
The impeachment itself will not be enough to remove the father-of-five from office before his term ends on January 20 (US time), which means the world will more than likely witness another six days of the Trump presidency.
But an even greater threat now hangs over Mr Trump’s head, with the outgoing President facing the very real prospect of being convicted in the Senate in a trial that could begin as early as next Tuesday.
That move would need a two-thirds majority in the 100 seat Senate. The chamber is evenly split 50/50 bethwee the two parties so a minimum of 17 Republicans would have to vote against him/ That’s assuming all Democrats voted to convict Mr Trump on the charge of inciting insurrection.
It will be a tough ask, although 10 House Republicans already broke ranks for the initial impeachment vote.
The New York Times has reported 12 were considering voting in favour of conviction even before high-profile Republican Liz Cheney threw her support behind the move. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is sitting on the fence for now, but the fact he is not in lock-step with Mr Trump may give some Republicans the impetus they need to go against the outgoing President.
BARRED FOR LIFE
If Mr Trump is convicted, Congress can then work to block him from public office for the rest of his days – which would be a stunning setback given the billionaire has previously told supporters he planned to run again in 2024.
For that to happen, a second Senate vote would need to be conducted which would only require a simple majority to pass.
But even if Mr Trump is not convicted, there’s still another card up his opponents’ sleeves – Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
That section spells out that no American can hold office if they have participated in “insurrection or rebellion” against the nation.
Given Mr Trump was charged with “incitement of insurrection” over his role in the Capitol siege, it could be enough to bar him for life if a simple majority in both chambers was achieved.
While the constitution doesn’t specifically lay out how the section is to be applied, this same scenario played out in 1919 when Congress used it against a politician who had stood against America’s involvement in World War I.
The block can also be revoked if two-thirds of both houses vote for it at a later date.
DYNASTY IN TATTERS
No matter which scenario actually ends up happening, one thing is abundantly clear – Mr Trump’s reputation has been severely damaged by the recent bloodshed and attack on democracy.
A new Ipsos survey found that two-thirds of Americans blamed the President for the Washington siege, which raises the question whether a second presidential run would even be viable.
And the fallout has implications for the wider Trump clan as well.
In the wake of Mr Trump’s election defeat, speculation has been mounting that his adult children Donald Jr, Eric and Ivanka were all considering future political careers of their own, with Ivanka firming up as a possible presidential favourite.
But according to a scathing Vanity Fair piece, the chances of Ivanka – or her siblings – ever rising to the Oval Office in the wake of the insurrection “are about as likely as her father appearing on 60 Minutes this Sunday to tell the nation that he realises the error of his ways and wishes he could take it all back.”