With the recent allegations and inquiries towards President Trump, here’s how the impeachment process works, and what it actually means for America.
Firstly, impeachment is not the same as removal from office.
The Constitution upholds Congress the power to remove presidents found of, “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” (U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 4). High crimes and misdemeanors are left up to interpretation.
The impeachment process contains two distinct steps between the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the House, a formal indictment or charge is placed up for legitimacy. The House is responsible for authorizing investigation to the Judiciary Committee. The Committee then reports their investigation findings to the House, and with a majority vote, the president is impeached. The articles of impeachment from the House are then passed to the Senate where they essentially act as a jury. During the “impeachment trial” in the Senate, it takes a two-thirds majority to proceed into enactment.
Besides Trump, only three other American presidents have gone through this process including Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. Johnson and Clinton were not convicted by the Senate and Nixon resigned before the House could vote.
“Compared to other investigations that the country has gone through (comparing with Watergate and with Clinton) as impeachment processes … the debate [currently] is over is this impeachable or not, not did this thing even happen,” said Dr. Robin Lauermann, professor of politics. Such was the case with previous allegations, making this time around very different.
She also continued saying about the process, “I always liken it to a regular trial where you have the indictment to say that there’s enough evidence to go to trial and then the trial itself. And so, to be impeached, it impacts, it tarnishes somebody’s record, just like being indicted. Even if eventually they don’t convict you; it’s very different than if no one raised a concern.”
The impeachment inquiry began with the uncovering of a phone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine. The whistleblower report, “outlines of charges Democrats have leveled against Trump [with] the central allegation is that the president is ‘using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election,’” The Washington Post said.
As of now, the impeachment investigation is still underway, and evidence is being gathered from both parities to prove their case. On October 5, the White House was subpoenaed, with Trump declaring, “the subpoena changes nothing – just more document requests, wasted time and taxpayer dollars that will ultimately show the President did nothing wrong.”
“Now will it [impeachment process] go anywhere? Dr. John Harles of the Politics Department said. “Unless the evidence that’s uncovered is overwhelming or there’s a change in heart in the Republican members of the Senate, it will die in the Senate. But that’s not to say it shouldn’t be done. It still serves a useful public purpose.”
Dr. Harles continued to say that he feels the Democratic party had no other choice but to raise the inquiry.
“If you don’t, then aren’t you ignoring your constitutional responsibility to check the executive from abusive power.”