This Is Exactly What Needs To Happen To Get Trump Impeached
The Debrief: It's a long procedure that requires cross-party co-operation, but it's not impossible.
Donald Trump’s comments this week following the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia – in which one woman lost her life – have been nothing short of appalling. If there is one tiny, vestigial flicker of hope, however, it’s that fence-sitters and Republican moderates have been served a pretty sharp wake-up call. It’s clearly no longer viable to exhibit wilful ignorance and claim that supporting Trump and sanctioning racism are not mutually exclusive.
This has led to renewed calls to impeach (remove from office) the President. On Thursday, Steve Cohen – a Democrat Representative from Tennessee – announced that he will file articles of impeachment (i.e. allegations of misconduct) against Trump. But we’ve had our hopes raised before, only for them to be dashed in a matter of days. So, here’s EXACTLY what needs to happen for Trump to be sent packing (and then we get Mike Pence, which is... a whole other issue).
1 - Articles of Impeachment must be filed by a member of the House of Representatives.
Despite a new poll by PRRI showing that 40% of Americans want Trump impeached, the process takes place entirely inside Congress. But Cohen has decided to get the ball rolling, after Trump refused to blame the Charlottesville tragedy on Neo-Nazis, stating inside that there were 'very fine people, on both sides.' We should probably point out that last month, California representative Brad Sherman introduced an article of impeachment. His allegations, relating to Trump’s alleged obstruction of an FBI investigation into ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, attracted very little congressional support.
2 – The House of Representatives votes on the Articles
If one or more allegation gets a majority vote, the President is indicted and the process can move forward to stage 3. In Trump’s case, this is likely to be an insurmountable obstacle, as his Republican Party control the House, with 240 members to the Democrats 194. However, all is not lost; with mid-term elections coming up next year, the congressional make-up could still change in Trump’s term.
3 - A trial for the President will be set in the Senate (Upper House).
This is the point in the process where Richard Nixon resigned, because he couldn’t face the elongated drama of a trial. The hearing is overseen by the incumbent Chief Justice of the Supreme Court – for Trump this would mean the social conservative John Roberts.
4 – The Senate votes on impeachment
Following the trial, a 2/3 majority is needed to impeach a President. This is where the process ended on two previous occasions - with Andrew Johnson back in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999. Both were acquitted and consequently remained in office. Currently, the Republicans are the larger party in the Senate too – with 52 Senators to the Democrats 46.
5 – The Vice President Takes Over
Nothing to celebrate here unfortunately – Trumps VP, Mike Pence, is pretty much his ideological twin, with a record of stubborn resistance to abortion, LGBT rights and environmental protection. Sadly, there is no U.S law that reinstates the President’s predecessor in cases of impeachment. We miss you B.O :(
Never in U.S history have all five stages been completed. In light of all these obstacles, the chances of Trump being impeached are, realistically, pretty low. And even if this liberal fantasy becomes a viable reality, (because in modern politics you actually never know) there are plenty more of his toxic buddies waiting in the wings. But although it takes a long time to suck a poison out of society, impeachment of its most high-profile mouthpiece would send a strong message - that the courting and appeasing of white nationalists will not be tolerated. And that’s a bloody good start.
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