Understanding Impeachment

Megan Sigismonti, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Recently, an atomic bomb of impeachment-related news has gone off in the media. The subject matter is continuously updating, making it hard for people to keep up. Students especially tend to struggle. Here is a breakdown of what we know:

Impeachment refers to bringing charges to a civil officer of government to the grand jury, for potential removal from office. Only two presidents have actually been impeached, but they were later acquitted by the Senate: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. According to an article by USA Today, after a political conflict with Congress involving his Reconstruction policies and removal of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, Johnson was impeached. Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice in the wake of his extramarital affair with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. In Johnson’s case, the Senate was one vote short of a two-thirds majority. Clinton was acquitted due to the Senate also not being able to muster a two-thirds majority. The two-thirds majority is the amount of votes needed to successfully pass approval for impeachment. A president that was nearly impeached was Richard Nixon, who, for his high crimes and misdemeanors related to the Watergate scandal, would have been impeached if he didn’t resign from office.

Now, President Donald Trump is in an impeachment investigation that was opened up by Democratic members of the House of Representatives. Trump’s phone call with Ukraine President, Volodymyr Zelensky, on July 25th, regarding an investigation of former Vice President, Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden, has been the spark for potential impeachment. Investigating the Bidens could possibly advance Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. Thus, possibly enabling a foreign country to interfere in the U.S. election.

Fox News created a poll on Twitter for people to share their opinion on Trump’s possible impeachment. According to NBC, “President Trump expressed his displeasure Thursday with a Fox News Poll that found a majority of registered voters believe he should be impeached.” The survey reveals that approximately 51% of people wanted Trump impeached and removed from office. President Trump angrily responded to Fox News, a major news network that usually supports Trump, in a tweet stating “From the day I announced I was running for President, I have NEVER had a good @FoxNewsPoll, whoever this Pollister is, they suck.”

Also by Fox News, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, announced that she has no plans to hold a vote to approve an impeachment inquiry of Trump. However, Pelosi is straying away from precedent, arguing that the Constitution doesn’t specify how impeachment investigations should be carried out. President Johnson, Clinton, and Nixon had investigations initiated after the full House of Representatives voted to approve them.

In a White House letter by White House Counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, Republicans argue that Democrats see the Ukraine phone call as a simple way to overturn the results of the 2016 election and/or change the future of the 2020 election too. In the letter provided by the New York Times, Cipollone argues, “you have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally-mandated due process.”

President Trump has recently realized that the Democrats appear to have enough votes to impeach him and is counting on the Republican-controlled Senate to acquit him. The House of Representatives only needs 218 votes, with 235 Democratic votes outweighing 198 Republican votes. Whereas, the Senate requires 67 votes, with Republicans topping Democrats 53 votes to 47.

This investigation is far from over, but when it ends there will be a big bang for sure.

The finalization of this article may be after further events occur regarding this subject matter.