Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced this week that the House of Representatives would initiate a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
Mr. Trump could become only the fourth president in American history to face impeachment. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate. President Nixon resigned as the House was preparing an impeachment vote.
This announcement is both historic and momentous. In his introduction to Impeachment: An American History, Jeffrey A. Engle writes that impeachment “disrupts the American political landscape as few other events do, leaving scars forever dimming the political careers for all involved.”
How does impeachment work?
The Wall Street Journal explains that the impeachment process “generally includes a House investigation, hearings, and a markup of articles of impeachment, or written accusations.” Traditionally, such articles have been drafted by the Judiciary Committee.
Once cleared by that committee, they are immediately considered on the House floor. A simple majority is required for impeachment.
Three types of conduct are typically seen as constituting grounds for impeachment: abusing or exceeding the powers of the office, behavior incompatible with the function or purpose of the office, or misusing the office for an improper purpose or for personal gain.
If the House impeaches Mr. Trump, House managers will then be selected to make their case before the Senate. A two-thirds majority is required to convict the president and remove him from office.
However, as CNN notes, Senate Republicans likely have the votes to easily dismiss the charges. With the current party split, twenty Republicans would have to join every Democrat in the Senate in voting to remove the president.
The process could take months. Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, says he hopes to conclude their work…
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