Impeachment could impede U.S. progress

How many times have you heard someone say the word “impeachment” in the past week? Chances are, it has been too many. As new details continue to be dug up on President Donald Trump’s relationship between his campaign and Russia, many people, such as Democratic representative from Texas, Al Green, are calling for Trump’s impeachment.

Meanwhile, the White House continues to play the defensive, denying memos from former FBI director James Comey and trying to mitigate the spread of news by issuing statements of denial against accusations.

Whether or not the accusations uncovered by journalists and government officials are true, a call for impeachment as serious as the recent ones based on alleged obstruction of justice are not something to take lightly.

Despite what you think even your most liberal friends would agree with, no one really wants impeachment. It’s not a light process. It requires a complex and expensive system of checks and balances through special committees and congressional hearings that can drag on for months and drown out important progress in policy making and silence all other issues at hand.

No matter who the president is, most Americans would rather see him become a success and serve the people the best of his abilities than be removed from office. However, the accusations against Trump are not to be taken lightly, because if true, they are serious and deserve the utmost attention. Should the accusations not be true, investigations by the special prosecutor should be easy, and the White House should have nothing to hide.

With rumors flying about the possibility of impeachment, it’s important to understand what the term means in the first place, and what it entails.

Presidential impeachment is the process of bringing charges upon the president. Impeachment does not mean removing the president from office, though it can happen as a result. Impeachment is brought on by the lower house while the upper house conducts the trial.

In an impeachment trial, there is no regular judge, and there is no regular jury. The role of the judge is taken over by the chief justice of the supreme court, in this case it would be Chief Justice John Roberts, who presides over the hearings. In the event that the charges brought upon the house are voted on and passed to the senate, the 100 members of the senate serve as a jury in the trial.

First, a member of the House or a special prosecutor must recommend impeachment proceedings, such as Green or appointed special prosecutor and former FBI director Robert Mueller. According to Article II of the U.S. Constitution, impeachment and removal of the president may only occur in the event of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Once proceedings are recommended, a House committee is called to review the allegations and decide if they are worthy of articles of impeachment. Usually, the matter is referred to the House Committee of the Judiciary where a majority vote decides if there is enough substance for impeachment to proceed.

If a majority vote within the committee is reached, the committee begins to draft the Articles of Impeachment. It essentially outlines the charges brought against the president. The Articles are presented to the full House where the resolution is debated and voted on. A simple majority is required for the Articles to pass.

If the Articles pass in the House, and the official is impeached, the matter is sent to trial in the Senate. Members of the House then present their findings and conclusions to the Senate.

The trial in the Senate is much like a regular trial. The defense and the prosecution both have the right to call witnesses and perform cross examinations, and the president is allowed to appoint a defense team of his own lawyers.

Senate members deliberate in private after being informed of the charges, and vote on acquittal or conviction. A 2/3 vote is required for conviction of the president, and as a result, he is automatically removed from office and barred from holding future public office ever again.  In the event that the President is removed from office due to proceedings of impeachment, the vice president assumes the role as president.

No president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached in the House of Representatives — Johnson for violating the Tenure of Office Act and Clinton for his in-office affairs, but both were acquitted in their Senate trials.

Richard Nixon, who has been cited heavily in the recent events with Trump and the Russian Investigation, resigned before he could be impeached in the House or the Senate. However, many agree that he would have been indefinitely impeached and removed had he not resigned. The president is also subject to criminal prosecution during an impeachment trial. While a president can pardon these criminal charges against a president, such as Gerald Ford did of Nixon’s charges, a president does not have the power to pardon impeachment cases.

Impeachment cases are rare, however, calls for impeachment are not, and many elected officials dating back to George Washington have faced calls for impeachment just as Trump has today. Because the true extent of Trump’s supposed actions are still unknown, it is difficult to predict whether or not this lengthy process will actually begin.

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