Talks of impeaching president Trump have been rife since the beginning of his presidency. Many Democrats calling for it were banking on the Mueller report while others felt that the chaos that has characterized the Trump White House should be reason enough to begin proceedings. However, some sober-minded Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have in many occasions called for caution.
The Mueller report, which appeared to clear the president of any wrongdoing, was seen as a huge victory for Republicans and supporters of the President. Even if an impeachment motion was to come at this stage, many argue that the grounds are quite frivolous. Besides, Republicans still control a majority in Senate so it will be very hard to move anything. So, what if Democrats decided to go down this path anyway?
Here’s a breakdown of the process that they are likely to follow.
What Are The Grounds for Impeachment?
According to the US constitution, a president can only be removed from office for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. What this means exactly is unclear and is open to various interpretations. However, Gerald Ford was famously quoted during the Nixon Watergate scandal arguing that an “impeachable offense is what the majority of the House of Representative decides it is at that moment in history.” Many legal scholars, however, note that corruption, abuse of office, and obstruction of justice are some of the most solid grounds for impeaching a sitting president.
How Would an Impeachment Play Out?
Impeachment loosely means the removal of a president from office but technically it means that at least 435 members of the House of Representatives have approved formal charges against a president. The House in this case acts as the “accuser.” It will vote on whether specific charges against the president should be brought forward or not. An impeachment will be considered to have occurred if the House approves such charges. It only needs a simple majority to do so.
However, keep in mind that even after impeachment is done, the president will still be in office. It will then be the job of the Senate to conduct a trial and determine whether the charges brought forward by the House are worthy. The trial is presided over the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. If it is determined by Congress that the president is guilty, the head of state will be convicted and removed from office. However, only a two-thirds majority can make this happen. Until today, no US president has ever been removed from office as a result of impeachment. During the Watergate scandal, President Nixon actually stepped down before the Senate trial started.
Can the Supreme Court Overturn Impeachment?
The decision by the Senate to remove a president from office is final. Under the US constitution, the Supreme Court doesn’t have any power to overturn the decision of the Senate. Trump earlier this week had suggested that he may ask the Supreme Court to intervene if Democrats decided to remove him but this wouldn’t work at all!