By: Troy Daly, Abby Nelson & Amelia Bodge, Staff Writers
On September 24th of this year, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi announced the House’s decision to begin an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
According to the Washington Post, the reasoning behind this decision was because, “The actions taken to date by the President have seriously violated the Constitution…” as she said in her speech. From that moment on, the formal process of impeachment was set in motion.
‘Impeachment’ is a term used in the U.S. Constitution which describes a power held by U.S. House of Representatives.
The purpose of this power is stated in Article II Section IV:
“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 Misdemeanors.”
Only two American presidents have been impeached. They were: Andrew Johnson (1868) and Bill Clinton (1998).
As we don’t often get to see this political undertaking, we spoke to Political Science Professor Manuel Avalos to get a better understanding.
“The process of impeachment starts in the House with an inquiry that is similar to an indictment. It allows them to investigate further.”, he said.
During this process, six House committees will look into Trump’s actions as President.
Avalos continued, “After they have gathered their information, the House can draft an article for impeachment that lays out the charges they wish to press.” These charges are known as Articles of Impeachment.
They will first be referred to the House Judiciary Committee, who will vote on them. If the Articles pass, the entire House of Representatives will vote on Impeachment.
If the House has a majority vote on any of the Articles, President Trump will be impeached.
If Trump is impeached, the Senate will hold a trial to determine whether he shall be convicted and removed from office. This won’t be a criminal conviction.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (currently Justice John Roberts) will preside over the case.
At this stage, President Trump and his lawyers will be able to bring forth a defense. Each of the Articles will be debated, then voted on.
If the Senate has a Super Majority vote of two-thirds to convict, President Trump will be removed from office.
In terms of numbers that would 67 US senators voting to impeach. Republicans hold the majority so for the president to be removed from office there would need to be at least 20 Republicans voting to impeach.
However, if it does pass, Donald Trump may be tried as a citizen in criminal court.
On the rare chance that Donald Trump is removed from office before his term as president is completed then the office will be occupied by Vice President Mike Pence.
Recognizing the rare, yet significant nature of impeachment, we asked a few students why it’s important:
“It proves that no one is above the law,” said Eli Miller, a first-year Nursing Major.
“It goes back to our democracy, we vote for who we want to run our country and who we think is best fit. When it comes to impeachment, if the person we have elected turns out to not be who we thought, we as Americans have the power to change that and not suffer under their rule. A nonviolent way to change leadership, especially when you consider how America became America.” -Shaina Guidebeck, Criminology Major, Junior
“I don’t think impeachment is always used to necessarily give people punishment but to help them take a second look at their actions and to control their constitutional power.” -Emily Wotton, Health Science Major, Freshman
How long will it take? “There is no timetable,” Professor Avalos said. For now, we can keep up with the news to see how this process plays out.
It will affect how the United States is governed in the next few years.
This is a historic event because a large majority of the students at USM have never witnessed an impeachment firsthand.