Four Things to Know About Impeachment

In September, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced that the House will pursue a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Speaker Pelosi specifically cited recent revelations about the apparent mistreatment of a whistleblower and concerns over President Trump asking Ukraine to investigate the son of Democratic candidate Joe Biden, a move Pelosi said “would benefit [Trump] politically.” The transcript of that conversation can be read here.

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi argued.

“Therefore, today, I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I’m directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry. The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”

Pat A. Cipollone, counsel to President Trump, sent a letter to House leadership on Wednesday denouncing their proceedings and explaining that the administration was not going to cooperate with the inquiry.

“Put simply, you seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen,” wrote Cipollone.

“In fact, your transparent rush to judgment, lack of democratically accountable authorization, and violation of basic rights in the current proceedings make clear the illegitimate, partisan purpose of this purported ‘impeachment inquiry.’”

Here are answers to four important questions regarding the history of impeachment and how the process is supposed to work when directed at the president.

How does it work?

The process begins with the House of Representatives bringing formal impeachment charges against a federal official, in this case the president. This can come through a resolution being introduced by a House member.

Normally charges are investigated by the House Committee on the Judiciary, though according to the House Office of the Historian special committees were known to have undertaken such investigations prior to the Judiciary Committee being created in 1813.

If the committee chooses to pursue articles of impeachment against the president, they report this to the full House who votes on the articles, with the articles needing a simple majority vote.

From there, as noted by Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution, the Senate will try the impeachment, with the Chief Justice presiding and with impeachment having to pass by a two-thirds majority.

“Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law,” explained Article I, Section 3.

What can presidents be impeached for?

According to Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, “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.”

Paul Rosenzweig, a former federal prosecutor, told Reuters in an interview last month that removal for treason would not work against Trump as the United States is not officially at war with Ukraine.

However, Rosenweig did tell Reuters that bribery could be included in the articles of impeachment, since the House can broadly define the term as part of their investigation.

Molly Olmstead of Slate wrote last month that defining the term “high crimes and misdemeanors” has been especially challenging.

“While ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ is commonly thought to refer to significant abuses of presidential power, rather than criminal violations, there are several different camps of interpretation,” Olmstead added.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski