The possibility of President Donald Trump being impeached is now a reality with the Sept. 24 announcement by House of Representatives majority leader Nancy Pelosi giving her approval for an impeachment inquiry.
Because impeachments don’t happen very often, the following brief summary is intended to provide some useful information.
The term “impeachment” means the process by which the United States House of Representatives brings accusations of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors against the president, vice president, or other civil officers of the United States.
An impeachment starts when an impeachment resolution is introduced in the House of Representatives. There is then an impeachment inquiry to determine if there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing, which has been committed by the individual officer.
This determination is usually made by the House Judiciary Committee by reviewing documents and taking testimony from witnesses.
If it is believed that a sufficient preliminary showing has been made, articles of impeachment are then prepared and put to a committee vote. There can be more than one count or charge in the articles. If there is approval of one or more of the articles by a simple majority, what’s been approved is then sent to the full House for a vote. If a majority of the House members approve the articles they are then sent to the Senate for a trial. At that point, the individual is considered to have been “impeached.”
At the trial, members of the House (called managers) act as the prosecution assisted by attorneys. The accused is also represented by attorneys and presents a defense. The Senate is the jury with the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court acting as the presiding judge if the president is on trial.
At the conclusion of the trial, a vote is taken, and if two-thirds of the Senate members vote to convict, a guilty verdict is entered.
Upon conviction, the official is automatically removed from office.
Who knows what will ultimately happen with President Trump. Details continue to unfold on a daily basis and it appears the inquiry is progressing. This is all being watched with great interest.
For additional information, I suggest starting at the United States Senate’s impeachment website.