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. This is just the formal charge against the president. Three out of 45 presidents have so far faced impeachment charges.
For the president to be removed from office, he must then be found guilty in a trial. 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. Some argued he should be impeached before he even took office. He has been accused of working with Russia to win the 2016 election, wrongly firing James Comey from the FBI, and violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution by doing business in other countries. More recently, he has been accused of breaking the rules to get money to build a wall on the US-Mexico border. 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. The new reason that Congress may try to impeach the president 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 was the vice president under Barack Obama, and he may be chosen by the Democrats 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.