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RTX6W2OS
6 things you need to know about how impeachment works
The "i word" - impeachment - is swirling around the U.S. Congress since the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's redacted Russia report, which painted a picture of lies, threats and confusion in Donald Trump's White House. Some Democrats say trying to remove Trump from office would be a waste of time because his fellow Republicans still have majority control of the Senate. Other Democrats argue they have a moral obligation at least to try to impeach, even though Mueller did not charge Trump with conspiring with Russia in the 2016 U.S. election or with obstruction of justice. Whether or not the Democrats decide to go down this risky path, here is how the impeachment process works.
USA-TRUMP/
RTX6VV0B
May 21, 2019
The "i word" - impeachment - is swirling around the U.S. Congress since the release of Special Counsel...
MONTOURSVILLE, UNITED STATES
U.S. President Donald Trump looks at supporters before boarding Air Force One after addressing a Trump...
The "i word" - impeachment - is swirling around the U.S. Congress since the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's redacted Russia report, which painted a picture of lies, threats and confusion in Donald Trump's White House.

Some Democrats say trying to remove Trump from office would be a waste of time because his fellow Republicans still have majority control of the Senate. Other Democrats argue they have a moral obligation at least to try to impeach, even though Mueller did not charge Trump with conspiring with Russia in the 2016 U.S. election or with obstruction of justice.

Whether or not the Democrats decide to go down this risky path, here is how the impeachment process works.

REUTERS/Carlos Barria
POLITICS-NIXON/
RTX363X4
May 16, 2017
WHAT ARE GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT?

The U.S. Constitution says the president can be removed from office...
New York, UNITED STATES
President Richard Nixon seated at his desk in the White House Oval Office
WHAT ARE GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT?

The U.S. Constitution says the president can be removed from office by Congress for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." Exactly what that means is unclear.

Before he became president in 1974, replacing Republican Richard Nixon who resigned over the Watergate scandal, Gerald Ford said: "An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history."

Frank Bowman, a University of Missouri law professor and author of a forthcoming book on the history of impeachment, said Congress could look beyond criminal laws in defining "high crimes and misdemeanors." Historically, it can encompass corruption and other abuses, including trying to obstruct judicial proceedings.

Courtesy The Nixon Library and Museum/Handout via REUTERS
USA-TRUMP/
RTX6LH2Y
February 06, 2019
HOW DOES IMPEACHMENT PLAY OUT?

The term impeachment is often interpreted as simply removing a president...
Washington, UNITED STATES
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on...
HOW DOES IMPEACHMENT PLAY OUT?

The term impeachment is often interpreted as simply removing a president from office, but that is not strictly accurate.

Impeachment technically refers to the 435-member House of Representatives approving formal charges against a president.

The House effectively acts as accuser - voting on whether to bring specific charges. An impeachment resolution, known as "articles of impeachment," is like an indictment in a criminal case. A simple majority vote is needed in the House to impeach.

The Senate then conducts a trial. House members act as the prosecutors, with senators as the jurors. The chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court presides over the trial. A two-thirds majority vote is required in the 100-member Senate to convict and remove a president from office.

No president has ever been removed from office as a direct result of an impeachment and conviction by Congress.

REUTERS/Jim Young
CLINTON
RTXIRD5
February 12, 1999
Nixon quit in 1974 rather than face impeachment. Presidents Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in...
Washington, USA
US President Bill Clinton walks past columns encircling the Rose Garden on his way to making a state.....
Nixon quit in 1974 rather than face impeachment. Presidents Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 were impeached by the House, but both stayed in office after the Senate acquitted them.

Obstruction of justice was one charge against Clinton, who faced allegations of lying under oath about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Obstruction was also included in the articles of impeachment against Nixon.

REUTERS/Win McNamee
USA-COURT/
RTSQKPS
October 03, 2016
CAN THE SUPREME COURT OVERTURN?

No.

Trump said on Twitter on April 24 that he would ask the Supreme...
Washington, UNITED STATES
U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington
CAN THE SUPREME COURT OVERTURN?

No.

Trump said on Twitter on April 24 that he would ask the Supreme Court to intervene if Democrats tried to impeach him. But America's founders explicitly rejected making a Senate conviction appealable to the federal judiciary, Bowman said.

"They quite plainly decided this is a political process and it is ultimately a political judgment," Bowman said.

"So when Trump suggests there is any judicial remedy for impeachment, he is just wrong."

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
USA-TRUMP/
RTX6V32G
May 09, 2019
PROOF OF WRONGDOING?

In a typical criminal court case, jurors are told to convict only if there is "proof...
Washington, UNITED STATES
U.S. President Trump responds to questions from reporters at the White House in Washington
PROOF OF WRONGDOING?

In a typical criminal court case, jurors are told to convict only if there is "proof beyond a reasonable doubt," a fairly stringent standard.

Impeachment proceedings are different. The House and Senate "can decide on whatever burden of proof they want," Bowman said. "There is no agreement on what the burden should be."

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
USA-TRUMP/CONGRESS
RTX3EZWX
September 06, 2017
PARTY BREAKDOWN IN CONGRESS?

Right now, there are 235 Democrats, 197 Republicans and three vacancies...
Washington, UNITED STATES
Trump meets Congressional leaders in Washington
PARTY BREAKDOWN IN CONGRESS?

Right now, there are 235 Democrats, 197 Republicans and three vacancies in the House. As a result, the Democratic majority could vote to impeach Trump without any Republican votes.

In 1998, when Republicans had a House majority, the chamber voted largely along party lines to impeach Clinton, a Democrat.

The Senate now has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents who usually vote with Democrats. Conviction and removal of a president would requires 67 votes. So that means for Trump to be impeached, at least 20 Republicans and all the Democrats and independents would have to vote against him.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
NORTHKOREA-MISSILES/
RTS1T322
May 24, 2018
WHO BECOMES PRESIDENT IF TRUMP IS REMOVED?

A Senate conviction removing Trump from office would elevate...
Washington, UNITED STATES
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence looks on as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks before the signing ceremony...
WHO BECOMES PRESIDENT IF TRUMP IS REMOVED?

A Senate conviction removing Trump from office would elevate Vice President Mike Pence to the presidency to fill out Trump's term, which ends on Jan. 20, 2021.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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