News/Op-Ed: President Trump Faces Impeachment Proceedings

by Tim Levine, Executive Editor

On September 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. While impeachment is a charge of misconduct made against the president, this is simply an inquiry, which is the first step, where lawmakers investigate if any crime was committed. 


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) addresses the nation to announce a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (Erin Schaff/New York Times)

Only two presidents have been impeached in American history, and none have been removed from office. However, this inquiry brings the possibility of a third being added to that list in what could be a long and arduous process.

The impeachment inquiry primarily stems from a call the president had with Ukraine, which Democrats believe contained the President attempting to abuse his power to help his reelection campaign by allegedly bribing the Ukrainian president to investigate his potential general election opponent, former-Vice President Joe Biden. This came to light through a whistleblower complaint. If true, this would be an impeachable offense and current efforts to subpoena witnesses and gather testimonies are ongoing.

Public opinion is beginning to swing in favor of impeachment, as more information has been announced. When the Ukraine allegations were just being announced, 57 percent of Americans did not support impeachment, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

However when a redacted version of the Whistleblower complaint came to light, a new CBS News-YouGov poll published on September 29th “found that more than half of Americans, 55 percent, approve of the fact that Congress has opened an impeachment inquiry into Trump,” according to an article in the Washington Post.

While this impeachment process is currently happening, it is important to know what the full process may look like. During the inquiry, if insufficient evidence is found, Trump would simply just remain in office. If evidence is found “of significant wrongdoing,” the House would vote on articles of impeachment, according to reporting by the BBC.

At this moment, at least 224 House democrats are in favor of impeaching and only 218 are needed for the house to pass something, according to the Washington Post.

If a simple majority in the House (51%) was to vote in favor of impeachment, Trump becomes impeached but not convicted, and a trial would begin in the Senate. So even if Trump was to be impeached in the House, the president would still be able to remain in office and the only way to be removed would be a supermajority vote in the Senate. This is highly unlikely, however, as the Senate is currently controlled by the Republicans and so far none have shown support for his impeachment.

This process will be as long or as short as Congress deems necessary, but if the past is any indicator, it should drag on for a few months. However, with the election looming, Democrats like House Speaker Pelosi feel the need to move quickly, as their political momentum may drop the closer the election draws nearer.

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