On the evening of September 24th, 2019, the United States Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, announced that the House would officially be launching impeachment inquiries concerning President Trump.
At a time like this, it is important for us, as students and future voters of America, to have a clear understanding of what impeachment is. The impeachment process begins when the US House of Representatives launches an impeachment inquiry and investigation into a suspected government official with the purpose of gathering evidence regarding their suspected crime. Right now President Donald Trump is the suspected government official. After an investigation, the House members vote on whether or not to formally accuse, or impeach, the official. However, impeachment alone does not constitute an official’s removal from public office. In fact, only two US presidents have ever been impeached, and neither of them were removed from office.
“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” the Constitution says.
In order for an official to be forcibly removed from office, they must be convicted of high crime in a case in which the Senate is the jury. This case takes place after an official’s impeachment. If the official is acquitted, the impeachment serves as a type of “negative mark” on their record, although they are allowed to continue serving in their position.
Although officials who are acquitted in their trials before the Senate are not forcibly removed from office, it has become commonplace for those investigated prior to impeachment, as well as those formally impeached, to resign from their positions, as they often face deep scrutiny and pressure from the public.
At this point, the US House of Representatives has initiated an impeachment inquiry for President Trump, and committees of the House have begun the investigation process regarding a phone call between Trump and the President of Ukraine. Some are doubtful that the House will be able to pass articles of impeachment before his term ends in January of 2021, but as the president is running for re-election, others believe that any decision reached by the House will affect voters in the next election.
It is currently unclear how much of the investigative process has been completed by the House’s committees, but whatever happens, it is sure to make headlines both worldwide and locally.