Your Guide To Understanding Impeachment


Jewel Hardwick '20, Staff Writer

Jackson. Nixon. Clinton. Trump. These presidents are known for their controversies, and for the impeachment processes that followed or are following.

Impeachment begins when a member of the House of Representatives declares charges against the President. Charges can include treason and bribery, as listed in the Constitution, or other “high crimes and misdemeanors”. The loose definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors” allows destructive actions that are not treason or bribery to be used as a charge. 

Then, after a formal announcement of the accused charges, the Speaker of the House approaches the House’s Judiciary Committee with an impeachment resolution, and the Committee decides whether sufficient grounds exist to impeach.

Once the grounds of impeachment are approved by the Committee, the House is then able to vote to impeach. Only a simple majority of those present and voting are needed in order for the motion to pass, and then the President is officially impeached. 

After the House has impeached the President, the proceedings move to a trial held in Senate. As the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court presides over the trial, members of the House present the Senate with evidence and arguments. A counsel represents the President, who also presents the Senate with evidence and agreements in favor of the President. 

Senators then must then vote on whether the President is guilty or innocent of the crimes presented by the House. A majority of two-thirds is needed for the motion to pass, and once passed, the President is removed from office, and the Vice President is sworn in.

Historically, only four presidents have entered the impeachment process. President Jackson was impeached by the House but was acquitted in the Senate by one vote. President Nixon resigned from the Oval Office before the House could finish the beginning inquiries. President Clinton was acquitted in Senate after he was impeached by the House. And today, the House has begun inquiries against President Trump.

Image courtesy of Master Steve Rapport.

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