Impeachment: how does it work and what does it mean?

To date, three presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump. Many believe that the first part of the process, as we have recently seen played out, would automatically remove the president from office, but it is more complicated than that. No president has been removed from office yet, so what even is impeachment?

What initiates impeachment and what is the process?

Step One: A person in office has to be accused of “high crimes and misdemeanors” (as quoted in Section 4, Article 2 of the Constitution). This is most often defined as treason, bribery, or other high crimes.

Step Two: A House member suggests to launch an impeachment. The speaker determines whether to agree to it.

“The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, announced the formal impeachment of President Trump on Sept. 24 for which she calls “betrayal of his oath of office. The House consists of 24 Democrats and 17 republicans, so 21 voted in favor” stated ABC News.

Step Three: The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee begins investigation and turns it over to the Judiciary Committee.

Image result for trump impeachment trial judiciary committee
December photo posted of the Judiciary Committee during the impeachment against President Trump. [Photo Credit: ABC News]
The Senate as a court of impeachment for the trial of Andrew JohnsonTHEODORE R. DAVIS / LIBRARY OF CONGRESS)

Step Four: Once impeachment has been decided with the House, a historic moment, it proceeds to the Senate. With the House as “prosecutors” and the Senate as “jurors,” the Senate votes and announces their decision of whether or not the president will be removed from office. To date, this has not happened. The vote is set for today (Wednesday).

According to Reuters, “The Senate now has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents who usually vote with the Democrats. Conviction and removal of a president would require a two-thirds majority.” With this many Republicans voting on a Republican president, the odds are slim of Trump being removed.

If a president is removed from office, the vice president takes over the position.

Why can an impeached president can be re-elected?

Short answer: The Constitution allows anyone who has been impeached (including those removed from office) to run for office again.

The United States Constitution explicitly says that in terms of political consequences, “judgment 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.” (Source)

NBC is posting live hearing updates here.

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