Donald Trump Becomes Third US President In History To Be Impeached
The House has spoken: Donald Trump has joined two of his former leaders in becoming the third US president in history to be impeached.
The Democratic lawmakers’ vote is the end result of a months-long inquiry into Trump, which advanced charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress.
The vote on the former – abuse of power – went 230 in favour, 197 against.
As per Article II of the US Constitution, ‘the President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours’.
With the majority of the House of Representatives voting to impeach Trump, his case will now forward to a US Senate trial – expected to take place in January – with the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court presiding over it (it’s important to note that the impeachment process is political, not criminal).
While the House has patently voted for impeachment, the Senate holds the keys in the case of actually removing him from office. In order for Trump to be stripped of his presidency, two thirds of senators at the trial must vote to convict him – subsequently, Vice President Mike Pence would take office.
Bear in mind that the Senate is controlled by the Republicans. Within the GOP, Trump has high approval ratings and a strong hold on party infrastructure. Therefore, it’s unlikely they’ll remove their own party leader from office – if anything, it’ll solidify and justify Trump’s defiance of impeachment proceedings in the voters’ eyes prior to the election in 2020.
Trump is accused of abusing his presidential power in a quid pro quo with Ukraine, dangling military aid and a White House meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky in exchange for the country launching a corruption inquiry into Joe Biden and his family – a leading Democrat candidate.
He’s also facing an obstruction of Congress charge due to his failure to comply and cooperate in impeachment proceedings.
On the eve of the House’s impeachment vote, Trump sent a thunderous letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, accusing her of viewing democracy as her ‘enemy’ and positing that ‘more due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials’.
In the letter, Trump wrote:
By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy.
You dare to invoke the Founding Fathers in pursuit of this election-nullification scheme – yet your spiteful actions display unfettered contempt for America’s founding and your egregious conduct threatens to destroy that which our Founders pledged their very lives to build.
Congress has yet to remove a president via the impeachment process. While two previous leaders have been impeached by the House – Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 – on both occasions, the Senate has acquitted.
Richard Nixon – who resigned under the nationwide weight of the Watergate scandal – is the only president prior to Trump to truly court with the possibility of being ousted by Congress.
However, the jury of the people isn’t in unison on the matter: according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 49% of Americans say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 46% say he should not.
Impeachment does not necessarily equal a Trump-less future in the White House, however. As per Article 1 of the US Constitution, ‘judgement in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States’.
However, a 2015 Congressional Research Report outlines the following:
Although removal from office would appear to flow automatically from conviction on an article of impeachment, a separate vote is necessary should the Senate deem it appropriate to disqualify the individual convicted from holding future federal offices of public trust.
Theoretically, Trump could be removed from office but still run and be re-elected in the next presidential election, if the US Senate does not vote via a majority on vetoing Trump from future positions of office.
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CreditsCNN and 2 others
The Washington Post
Congressional Research Service