Photo: LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images
The Trump presidency continues to undergo daily scrutiny; whistleblower allegations, secret calls with foreign leaders, alleged election meddling and collusion claims. The list of transgressions is relentless.
On Tuesday, September 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she would begin a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
“This week, the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically," Pelosi stated. "The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections."
Despite Trump tweeting that the impeachment probe is a “total witch hunt,” the Democrats have finally reached a breaking point in Trump’s questionable and corrupt behavior.
The good news is that the reality of impeachment is closer and more realistic than ever before. The bad news is that the process may not be swift.
Here’s everything you need to know about the constitutional process:
- Any member of the House of Representatives can initiate an impeachment inquiry.
- Any impeachable offenses, including bribery and treason, must be investigated by a House committee.
- The House Committee’s job is to discover if the sitting president, or any elected official’s actions, warrant impeachment.
- The six committees charged with this task are Judiciary, Intelligence, Ways and Means, Financial Services, Oversight and Foreign Affairs.
- Each committee will investigate a specific area in the President’s past and present. They will identify any unethical deeds, which do not have to be federal crimes. They can be wrongdoings such as abusing power for personal gain.
- Following their investigations, the probes are forwarded to the House Judiciary Committee, which would vote on whether to send the results of the investigations to the House of Representatives. From there, the House votes with a majority rule.
- With the House’s authorization, a U.S. Senate trial is scheduled where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court reigns. Elected senators become jurors and the House becomes prosecutors.
- During the trial, the defendant is allowed to have defense lawyers to plead their case and present evidence. A Senate vote, which is considered final, is reached after the trial concludes, requiring a two-thirds majority for impeachment.
- Upon a successful vote, that official is immediately removed from office and that official could be barred from holding any federal position in the future.
The Others Who Have Faced Impeachment
The 17th President, Andrew Johnson, was voted out of office beginning on February 14, 1868. He was impeached for violating the Tenure of Office Act, a federal law that prohibited the President from removing office holders without Senate’s consent and approval.
President Bill Clinton impeachment began in December 1998 and concluded in February, 1999. The bill was prompted when he was slammed with a sexual harassment lawsuit by Paula Jones, an Arkansas state employee. Clinton, who was the 42nd President, was also impeached for obstruction of justice and lying under oath.
President Richard Nixon was also on the impeachment chopping block in February 1974, but resigned from office before proceedings began.
Although both Johnson and Clinton were impeached, the Senate refused to convict them of any criminal charges. Johnson left office but President Bill Clinton stayed through the end of his term.
If successfully impeached, President Donald Trump would make the 3rd United States President to be removed from office.
It has been a tumultuous week in The White House. Besides the efforts to impeach the president, last week, congresswoman Ayanna Pressley launched an impeachment inquiry against Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh, after multiple women alleged that he sexually assaulted them.
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