What is Impeachment?


Courtesy of thenation.com

Julia Rodriguez, Editor-in-Chief

There have been recent developments pertaining to the impeachment proceedings regarding President Trump and his administration.

Impeachment. Many Americans may be familiar with the term, but do not know the actual meaning. What does impeachment mean?

According to the dictionary, impeachment means “a charge of misconduct made against the holder of a public office.” This is indeed a very general definition of the term, and although it seems pretty straightforward, it is not. This definition is quite ambiguous, so let’s dive in and look a little deeper. What exactly is impeachment under a sitting president and what does it entail?

When the U.S. Congress believes the president should be removed from office due to treason, bribery, or “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” articles of impeachment are drafted by the House of Representatives and forwarded to the Senate for a trial to be conducted.

People are often confused due to the terminology used – “crime” often means misconduct performed by the general public, such as robbing a bank or murder. But “crime” in an impeachment context is viewed through a purely political lens rather than a criminal lens. “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” also seems vague, and unfortunately, this phrase is not defined by the U.S. Constitution.

Because of this lack of clarity, many often wrestle over what is considered a high crime and what is not. A high crime, however, is not a general crime; not all of these impeachment-worthy actions are considered your everyday crimes. Some examples include, but are not limited to, abusing powers of the office, misusing an office for financial gain, or deliberating acting against the U.S. Constitution.

Because elected officials entangled in an impeachment inquiry may hold more power, the definition of crime pertaining to them will be significantly different. Thus, the investigation and process will be different compared to your traditional criminal investigation and trial.

To clarify, impeachment shouldn’t be confused with the action of actually removing an elected official, like the U.S. President, from office. Impeachment simply refers to the act of bringing formal charges against a public officer holder, and not the actual removal of a public holder from office. Article II of the Constitution, which mainly discusses the formation of the presidency and executive branch, includes how the president may be ultimately removed through the first step of impeachment.

The House of Representatives take the initiative in the whole process; they are the only people that have the power and authority to impeach. Any member of the House can propose to start impeachment, and if they collect enough credible evidence that a possible impeachable offense has been committed, then the House can vote to impeach the president for whatever crime they think he/she may have committed. They do this by following the guidelines provided by the Constitution in order for the claim to be valid.

If majority of the House votes to move forward in the impeachment process, the Senate will hold a trial. In order for the president to be removed from office, the Senate must hold a trial and present evidence, involving the chief Justice of the United States. In order for the president to be removed from office, a two-thirds majority of the Senate (they serve as the jury) must vote to convict.

Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were the two presidents in American history to have ever been impeached. But neither were removed from office through a Senate trial. Richard M. Nixon however, was the only president to resign, and that was due to the threat of impeachment.

It will be interesting to see whether the impeachment proceedings continue and how this situation progresses. Click on the stories below if you’re interested in how this concerns our current President, Donald Trump. Make sure to follow the Daily Roar to receive more updates on this story!