The Impeachment Process

Lizzie Lohrer, Editor-in-Chief

If you’ve watched any news channel recently, you’ve probably heard the word “impeachment” thrown around a lot, especially after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives is moving forward in the process to impeach President Donald Trump. So what, exactly, are the Democrats talking about when they say this? 

Many people believe that the impeachment process immediately removes a sitting President from office, but that isn’t quite how it works. The impeachment process is simply the first step in removing a president from office and has never successfully removed a president. In both historical uses of the impeachment process, with Johnson in 1868 and Clinton in 1998, the presidents remained in office. 

In order to impeach the current president, they need to be guilty of treason, bribery, or “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which is, as the New York Times says, “an abuse of power by a high-level public official.” These qualifications basically ensure that a president cannot be impeached without having done something that interferes’s with their integrity as president. A president couldn’t be impeached for jaywalking or speeding, but they could be impeached for using their power as president to try and influence the upcoming election, as Trump has been accused of doing. 

During the impeachment process, the House holds a vote on articles of impeachment, which are the formal charges that the House presents against the president. If any of the articles receive a majority vote, the President is impeached. The case then moves to the Senate, where a trial is held and a vote taken. In order to remove the president from office, the vote would have to pass with a two-thirds majority. However, if the vote doesn’t pass with at least a two-thirds vote, then the president remains in office. 

In the case of President Trump, it isn’t out of the realm of reason to expect that the impeachment will pass in the House, especially since the House is currently controlled by the Democrats. The Senate, though, poses more of an obstacle to the impeachment process since the majority are Republicans. The chances that the Senate would allow the impeachment process to succeed and that President Trump would be removed from office is slim, as it is not only harder to ratify the process in the Senate, but it’s also made more difficult by the allies President Trump currently has in the Senate. However, the simple existence of the impeachment process is an important part of America’s democratic system, since it stops a president from abusing their power and puts that decision back in the hands of the elected representatives. It’s important that, as a country that prides itself on its freedom and democracy, everyone understands and respects the policies, such as impeachment, that are in place to keep that freedom and democracy secure.