Includes photos by Couleur and Hans Braxmeier (Pixabay)

The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) announced today that the agency will perform a controlled burn of the famous cherry blossom trees in Washington, DC. The measure is described as a necessary COVID-19 prevention step that was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the White House COVID-19 Response Team.

NPS Northeast Region spokesperson James McPhearson, speaking at a press conference in Washington earlier today, said this step is not taken lightly. “We know how important the blossoms are to the region, and they are an important part of the area’s history, but, you know, COVID. The blossoms are now a serious threat to public health. We’re all in this together.” When asked to elaborate on what specific threat the cherry blossoms posed to the community, McPhearson said, “Look, I really don’t understand it either. Maybe the trees release the coronas when they get to full bloom? I don’t know. The CDC told us to do it. It makes as much sense as all the other stuff we’ve been doing since this pandemic started.” He then made an air-quotes gesture and blurted out, “Science!”

Fire experts from the U.S. Forest Service will assist the NPS in coordinating the burn. Officials are expecting only minor damage to monuments and structures around the National Mall and Tidal Basin, mainly from smoke. The U.S. National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch for the entire area because burning blossoms on some trees may turn into cute, little firebombs that travel on the wind throughout the DC metro area. During the burn, there will be rolling closures of roads and highways in the affected area.

Off on a Tangent attempted to contact Doctor Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor for the White House COVID-19 Response Team, for comment. Fauci, who was locked in a sterile containment unit and wearing six face masks even though he has already been vaccinated, was unable to communicate.

The United States Senate voted today to acquit former President Donald Trump (R), ending what was only the fourth presidential impeachment trial in American history. It was historically notable as the first time a president had been impeached a second time, and the first time an impeachment trial had been held for a former president.

The United States House of Representatives passed an article of impeachment in January, while Trump was still in office, alleging that he had incited an insurrection. This led to a trial in the Senate which was presided over by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Senate’s president pro tempore. It would have required a two-thirds supermajority of senators to convict and remove the president from office.

The Senate voted 57-43 to convict, however this fell short of the required two-thirds majority of 67. All of the Democrats, and the two independents who caucus with the Democrats, voted to convict. All but seven of the Republicans voted to acquit. Republican senators voting for conviction were Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Pat Toomey (R-PA).

Three presidents have been impeached—President Andrew Johnson (D) in 1868, President Bill Clinton (D) in 1998, and President Donald Trump (R) in 2019 and 2021. All were acquitted in Senate trials, and no president has ever been removed from office. Articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon (R) passed the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 but Nixon resigned before they could be considered by the full House or brought to the Senate for trial.

When the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach former President Donald Trump (R) on a charge of “incitement of insurrection,” it set us up for a new constitutional conundrum that I did not address in my previous analysis. At the time, when Trump was still president, I looked at what impeachment is, how it should be used, and the charge itself. I concluded, for reasons described in depth there:

Article 1’s accusation is not supported by the evidence. Trump’s speech contained no actual incitement to violence or insurrection, and the storming of the Capitol cannot be proven to be causally related. The Senate should acquit.

Trump, Impeachment, and the 25th

Because the House voted to impeach, the U.S. Senate would normally take it up and hold an impeachment trial under the established process. We’ve used it three times before—against President Andrew Johnson (D), President Bill Clinton (D), and Trump after his first impeachment. What makes this time unique is that Trump’s term is over; he is no longer president.

Now we have to answer a new constitutional question: Can we put a former president on trial?

. . . Continued

Tyler Merbler (CC BY 2.0)

In December 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump (R) on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. After an inexplicable delay, the articles were eventually submitted to the U.S. Senate, which voted in February 2020 to acquit on both counts.

My intention had been to seriously review the articles well before the Senate took them up. I was going to produce an analysis similar to the one I produced on the question of whether the Mueller report revealed any obstruction of justice by Trump. I had it outlined and had gotten part-way into it, but then there was a death in the family, other things came up, and before I got everything back in order COVID-19 happened. And by the time I got everything back in order again, the news cycle had long passed me by and impeachment was but a distant memory . . . or so I thought.

I still planned to come back to it. It needs the analysis and consideration that I never had time to give to it. But now, in the waning days of the Trump presidency, he has been impeached again (in the wake of the siege at the Capitol), and there has been serious political discussion of invoking the Section 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to remove Trump from office. So here we are again.

First, I’m going to handle impeachment. I’ll explain the conditions under which it should be used, and review, in turn, the two articles of impeachment from 2019 and the one that was passed by the House of Representatives earlier today.

Second, I am going to handle Section 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. I’ll explain the conditions for its use and whether or not recent events would justify it being invoked against Trump.

. . . Continued

C-SPAN

The United States House of Representatives has voted to impeach President Donald Trump (R) a second time. The House cast votes this afternoon on one article of impeachment alleging that Trump incited an insurrection when he spoke to supporters on January 6, 2021. Some of those supporters rioted and stormed the U.S. Capitol.

The 232-197 vote was largely along party lines. Among those who voted, all House Democrats voted to impeach, and all but ten Republicans voted against. Four members, all Republicans, were not present or did not cast votes.

Trump was impeached on other charges in 2019, and is the first president to have been impeached multiple times. Only two previous presidents have been impeached—President Andrew Johnson (D) in 1868 and President Bill Clinton (D) in 1998. Both were acquitted in Senate trials, and no president has ever been removed from office. Articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon (R) passed the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 but Nixon resigned before they could be considered by the full House.

The U.S. Senate holds impeachment trials, which are presided over by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. It would require a vote by a two-thirds super-majority of senators to convict and remove the president from office. Trump’s term in office ends at noon on January 20, and it is unclear if an impeachment trial can be held after the subject of the impeachment is no longer in office.