impeachment

We’ve all been subjected to the Democrat threats of Trump impeachment, but what is really at stake? The term “impeach” is highly provocative and refers to the first step to unseat a properly elected president. The present effort is taking national divisiveness to a new level with virtually no chance of conviction. Few people really understand impeachment, but all citizens need to. Let’s look at just what it is and what it is not.

Many view impeachment to mean the removal of a president. However, it is just like an indictment in the court system. A president has to be later convicted of the articles of impeachment to be removed. The whole process is codified into law by Article 1 of the Constitution which basically follows the 14th Century British process. It is not a criminal trial process, but rather a determination of fitness for office.

Very serious charges have to be considered by the Congress in order begin an impeachment process. Article 1 specifies “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors” as justification for impeachment. Such infractions of the law would have to be compiled into Articles, or charges, of Impeachment by the House of Representatives. The House would select certain members as prosecutors to make the case before their full body. Then, they would need a simple majority of those voting to impeach, which they would probably have in this Congress (217 out of 433 [currently two vacancies], and they have 235 Democrats). Should they impeach, it would be only an indictment that would then go to the Senate for a conviction decision to remove the president.

The whole body of the Senate would consider the evidence in a court-like trial with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, as presiding judge. As in the House, a Senate committee of prosecutors would bring the charges. The Senate would then require a two-thirds super-majority vote to convict (67 out of 100). So only 34 Republican votes would be needed to block conviction. The Senate has 53 Republicans. The bottom line is there would be almost zero chance of conviction unless the president were proven to have committed some kind of heinous crime. Most Americans would view the House action as purely political and an abuse of their constitutional responsibility. Democratic representatives would be attempting a last-ditch effort to oust the president because everything else had failed.

In the history of America, no president has ever been removed from office following impeachment. In 1842, an attempt to impeach John Tyler for vetoing a string of tariff bills failed to get a House majority vote. In 1868, Andrew Johnson was impeached for replacing the Secretary of the Navy without Congressional consent, but the Senate fell short of the two-thirds vote for conviction. In 1999, Bill Clinton was impeached in the Monica Lewinsky debacle, but the Senate couldn’t muster even a majority of votes to convict him. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 over the Watergate cover-up before an impending impeachment.

If a president would ever be removed by impeachment and conviction, the vice president would assume the presidency and would select a new vice president. If the vice president were also removed or declined the position, the speaker of the House Pelosi, oh my!, would become president.

There is no provision for a president to appeal an impeachment or conviction. However, removal by impeachment and conviction for a crime is not subject to sentencing. If criminal activity is involved, the president would be subject to entering the criminal justice system afterward for possible arrest, indictment, trial, conviction, and sentencing.

So, what does all the hoopla about impeaching Trump bode for his future? Almost assuredly nothing. Incivility, miscalculations, even lying and sharing of classified information are not impeachable offenses. Even impeachable offenses such as Clinton’s obstruction of justice would not likely result in conviction and removal. Treason, bribery, and high crimes are very high bars to clear. Personally, I don’t believe impeachment of President Trump will ever get past the threat stage, and shouldn’t. Even if the craziness in the House somehow managed to get the President impeached, there is hardly any possibility of conviction in the Senate. Unless something turns up tantamount to treason or murder, the  storm winds of impeachment will have no more effect than a light breeze.

I invite your comments and shares.