A US politics expert at The Australian National University (ANU) says President Donald Trump is likely to finish his term in office, but he could be banned from being a presidential candidate in 2024.  

President Trump’s impeachment in Congress passed with 232 votes, after 10 Republicans joined Democratic colleagues. 

Dr Charles Miller from the ANU School of Politics and International Relations said the unprecedented second impeachment of President Trump would likely lead to his trial in the Senate after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. 

“This does not mean the Senate trial will be without consequence; the Senate can vote to ban Trump from ever again holding federal office, ensuring that he cannot run again in 2024,” Dr Miller said. 

The charges that President Trump faces are serious: inciting an insurrection. 

“Given the popularity Trump still enjoys with the Republican base and the fact that we cannot forecast how the US economy among other things will look by 2024, this is very important,” Dr Miller said. 

“Bluntly, if Trump ran in 2024 he would have a good chance of winning the Republican nomination, as things stand. And if he won the nomination, there is a good chance he may win back the presidency.” 

The ban on President Trump is “eminently possible” with the likely support of every Senate Democrat and a few Republicans, possibly outgoing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Dr Miller said.  

“This vote, unlike a vote to convict and remove Trump from office, would require only majority support in the Senate,” he said. 

Dr Jennifer Hunt, from the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, said because the conviction of President Trump in the Senate would require a bipartisan effort, the ban “would also divorce Trump from the Republican party which has helped facilitate his electoral success”. 

“The outcome will impact America for decades,” Dr Hunt said. 

“After the impeachment vote, President Trump released a video calling for calm. However, without retraction of the ‘great lie’ that any election he loses is rigged, Trump’s supporters may continue to rationalise violence. The FBI has warned of violence throughout the days leading up to inauguration.” 

Security pundits in the Indo Pacific are nervously watching to see the extent to which the US faces either gridlock or an outburst.  

ANU national security expert Professor John Blaxland said the United States appears to be on the cusp on an existential political precipice. 

“How might a more assertive and confident Chinese President seek to exploit the opportunity that this turmoil presents?” the Professor of the International Security and Intelligence Studies at ANU said.  

“We’ve already seen reports of recent Chinese and Russian military collaboration in the South China Sea which looks to be timed to coincide with the twilight between presidencies. Both Xi and Putin appear gleeful at the prospect of a spiraling political disorder in the United States, providing them with opportunities to consolidate and expand their power and authority.  

Professor Blaxland said there is a nervous arc of Indo Pacific nations – from Japan and Korea, through Taiwan and Southeast Asia, to Australia and across to India – all watching on, bracing for what the future might hold. 

“Overwhelmingly, there is a sense of hope across this arc that this moment will pass uneventfully, that the inauguration will proceed peacefully and that the United States can find its equilibrium,” he said.  

“But that hope is a qualified one, and the fears of further disruption are heightened and understandable.” 

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