There has been a lot of talk in the news of impeaching President Donald Trump. Democrats in Congress – especially in the House of Representatives – have been talking about impeaching him since he first took office, but why? Will the House actually impeach Trump this time, and if so, what will happen?
What Is Impeachment?
The United States Constitution gives a process for removing a president who has broken the law, but impeachment is just the first step.
To begin the process, the House Judiciary Committee must decide there is enough evidence to impeach, then draft Articles of Impeachment. If the Judiciary Committee decides to impeach, the whole House of Representatives then votes on it. When more than half of members of the House of Representatives agree, then the president is considered impeached. But this is just the formal charge against the president. It is like the indictment, or the formal accusation. This has happened to only three of our 45 presidents so far.
But for the president to be removed from office, there must still be a trial in which he is found guilty. The Senate holds this trial with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court acting as the judge and the House Judiciary Committee acting as the prosecution. If two-thirds of the Senate votes to convict, then the president is removed from office. This has never happened before. When the House impeaches but the Senate doesn’t convict, the president stays in office.
Impeaching Donald Trump
Many reasons have been given for impeaching Donald Trump, and not all of those reasons were for things he did as president. Some argued he should be impeached before he even took office. Those who believe that he either colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election from Hillary Clinton or that he is a racist who is legitimizing white nationalism – or both – don’t believe Donald Trump is fit to be president. Even though this focuses on actions from before he even became president, these people still believe Trump should be impeached for it. For them, it doesn’t matter that he was elected in spite of these issues – he must be removed at all costs.
Since taking office, President Trump has been accused of wrongly firing James Comey from the FBI, violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution by doing business in other countries, and the improper use of government funds to build a border wall. He has even been called insane, and there are those who would use the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove him from office by saying he isn’t mentally capable of doing the job.
Some Democrats in the House of Representatives had tried to get the impeachment process started before but failed. Now, even Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, has said it is time to look at impeaching Trump. She had previously resisted, but the new reason being cited is a phone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine. Some claim that Trump is trying to get the Ukrainian president to help him beat Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Biden, who served as vice president under Barack Obama, is one of the most likely candidates who the Democrats will choose to run against Trump in 2020.
It’s a long road to impeaching a president – and an even longer one to convicting and removing that president from office.