It’s hard to believe Donald Trump has lasted this long as US President, but here we are. What’s more, he could be re-elected for a second term if he wins the next election in November 2020.
But there’s a new stumbling block in the road that may finally bring him down: the very real threat of impeachment. Talk of impeachment has surrounded the Wotsitty one since he first took office, but it’s taken until now for the Democrats to actually begin impeachment proceedings. One question: erm, why?
Turns out it’s actually pretty difficult to impeach a President. Hostile policies, such as building a wall between the US and Mexico, making it overwhelmingly difficult for transgender people to serve in the American military, and the now-infamous Muslims ban, aren’t enough to get you impeached.
Why are we talking about impeachment now?
The Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have started impeachment proceedings alleging misconduct in Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky. It’s alleged that Trump withheld nearly $400m in military aid to Ukraine just days before pressuring Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of former vice-president Joe Biden. Biden senior looks to be Trump’s most likely Democratic opponent in the 2020 elections. Trump denies any wrongdoing.
The whistleblower who filed the complaint against Trump is an unidentified member of the intelligence services. Trump says they have misrepresented the conversation he and Zelensky had in a “totally inaccurate and fraudulent way”.
The complaint accuses Trump of attempting to show that Joe Biden acted corruptly during the 2016 election by pressuring Ukraine to fire its chief prosecutor, who was then investigating a company on whose board sat Biden’s son, Hunter. But Joe Biden was among many leaders calling for the chief prosecutor to step down because he was failing to tackle corruption. No wrongdoing by either Joe Biden nor his son has been found.
What actually is impeachment?
Impeachment is the US’s process for removing a government official, such as a President or judge, from office (it’s not just something which happens to Presidents, which is why there are also people who hope Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh might be impeached).
Though two US Presidents have been impeached (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton), neither were removed from office as a result. Both were acquitted. President Richard Nixon resigned before he was impeached.
According to the US constitution, an official can be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours”, although what this means in practice is up to the US Congress to interpret.
Donald Trump is only the fourth President in history to face impeachment proceedings.
So, could Donald Trump actually be impeached?
Technically, yes. But there’s a long way to go, and any impeachment battle will be bitter.
The Democrats are currently building their case towards impeachment. Based on their findings, a judiciary committee could then draft articles of impeachment against Trump. These would then go to a vote in the US House of Representatives. If the vote is passed, Trump would be officially ‘impeached’.
Then, the Senate (the other part of the US Congress) would hold a trial. If they reach the required two-thirds majority, the President will be convicted and removed from office. This has never happened before and to reach the two-thirds benchmark, 20 Republican senators would need to defect. But Trump has wide support among Republicans, so – in short – there’s a mountain to climb.
This post was originally published on Cosmopolitan.com
Read more Politics