How Exactly Does the US President’s Impeachment Process Work?

Ever since President Donald Trump became impeached there has been a lot of confusion about the process of impeachment and what it actually means for the president. Since he is only the third president in the history of the US to get impeached, it’s no wonder we don’t know much about how this works. That’s why we answered some of the most commonly asked questions about the process of impeachment so that we could all understand what is going on and what consequences could this potentially have on the US. 

What is impeachment?

The makers of the American Constitution included the process of impeachment as a way to limit the powers of the president. If a president commits treason, bribery or any other high crime and misdemeanor, the US congress has the ability to impeach him, that is, to accuse him of the crimes and put him on trial. Although this can result in removal from office, it doesn’t necessarily have to as the process of impeachment is a bit more complicated than that. 

What is the process?

The process begins when an impeachment resolution is introduced and at least half of the House of Representatives votes for impeachment. After that, a trial is held at the Senate in order to determine whether a president is guilty of the crimes or not. Members of the House have the position of prosecutors in this trial – they provide the evidence and try to prove that the president is indeed guilty. The Senators serve as jurors and after hearing all the evidence, they vote. Members of the House need at least two-thirds of the Senators to vote in their favor in order to remove the president from office, that’s why it is not so easy to find a president guilty. The trial should be completely fair and senators impartial. 

Has this ever happened before?

As we mentioned, Trump is the third US president to be impeached – Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 and Andrew Johnson in 1868. However, they were only impeached, not found guilty and they remained in office until the ends of their terms. Another president who got very close to being impeached and removed from office was Richard Nixon, but he quit before the process even started. 

Why is President Trump impeached?

There were two charges against Donald Trump – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, which are both serious enough to begin the process of impeachment. President Trump is thought to have abused his power when he used Ukraine to find information that would ruin his opponent Joe Biden. The 2020 presidential election is approaching and the President wanted to secure his win by sabotaging his biggest opponent. He, of course, denied having anything to do with this. Nevertheless, the process has begun and the president is currently in trial. 

What happens if Trump is found guilty?

If a president is found guilty, the vice president takes the oath of office and becomes the president. In this case, if Donald Trump is removed from office, his vice president Mike Pence would take over. However, even though there is serious evidence against the president, we have to remember that the Senators are the ones who have the power to find him guilty, and, since the republicans have a majority in the Senate, it is highly unlikely that they will vote against their leader.