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Politics & Law

Impeachment – Simply Explained

The Congress, the legislature of the USA, has power derived from the Constitution to remove a president from office through impeachment. Although the process bares similarities to a criminal trial, it’s not. It’s a political one.

The Congress, has power to remove a president from office through impeachment.

The President enjoys immunity from criminal prosecution while in office, but may be charged with crimes committed during his term afterwards. Once impeached, the President’s powers are suspended, and the Constitutional Court decides whether or not the President should be removed from office.

THE IMPEACHMENT PROCESS HAS TWO STAGES

To impeach, means to bring charges in Congress that will form the basis for a trial. In the case of Trump’s impeachment, the first stage was done when two articles of impeachment were brought to the House of Representatives and were passed. The House of Representatives is the lower house of the Congress, where the Democratic Party currently holds majority. Only three presidents in US history have ever been impeached. Andrew Johnson in 1876, Bill Clinton in 1997 and Donald Trump in 2019.

The first stage was done when two articles of impeachment were brought to the House of Representatives and were passed.

In the second stage, the process heads to the Senate where a trial will be held in January. The Senate is the upper house of the Congress, where the Republican Party currently holds majority. The lower and upper house together form the US Congress.

In the second stage, the process heads to the Senate where a trial will be held in January.

WHAT IS AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE

The US constitution states a president shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Treason and bribery are well understood, but the Constitution does not define “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

The founders intentionally kept the term “high crimes and misdemeanors” vague, because impeachment is meant to be a political act, not a legal one. Unlike criminal law, there are no clear rules for evaluating when a president has stepped over the constitutional line.

Congress has identified three types of conduct that constitute grounds for impeachment. A president can be impeached for abusing the powers of the office, or for acting in a manner considered incompatible with the office, including misusing an office for financial gain

The founders intentionally kept the term “high crimes and misdemeanors” vague, because impeachment is meant to be a political act, not a legal one.

WHAT TRUMP IS ACCUSED OF

Trump has been impeached on two articles. The first vote in the House of Representatives, 230 to 197, accused him of abuse of power. In the second, 229 to 198, voted accusing him of obstructing Congress.

Specifically the president is accused of, for personal political gain, withholding $400m of military aid to Ukraine that had already been allocated by Congress, as bargaining chips for pressuring Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky during a July 25 call, to dig up damaging information on Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Joe Biden is one of Trump’s main Democratic challengers for the presidency in 2020.

Donald Trump is also accused of obstructing Congress by refusing to co-operate with the congressional inquiry.

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, was mentioned four times in the July 25 call. He has traveled to Ukraine this year to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and to undermine the finding that Russia had interfered in the election for Trump.

Trump has defended his July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, by describing it as “perfect” and that the Ukranian president felt no pressure. He believes the whole impeachment process to be a “sham” and a partisan “witch hunt”.

WILL TRUMP BE CONVICTED BY THE SENATE

If convicted, Trump would immediately be removed from office, triggering the 25th Amendment. It is however unlikely Trump would be convicted as The Senate is controlled by the Republican Party. A two-thirds vote is necessary for a president’s removal. This has never been reached in US history, although Richard Nixon resigned rather than facing a near certain conviction for his involvement due in the Watergate scandal.

Even if Trump is not convicted by the Senate as predicted, only three presidents in US history, Trump included, have ever been impeached. And like them, his legacy will forever be tarnished.

Even if Trump is not convicted by the Senate as predicted, only three presidents in US history, Trump included, have ever been impeached. And like them, his legacy will forever be tarnished.

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