The Impeachment Questions You Were Afraid to Ask

The United States House of Representatives has made history by impeaching President Donald Trump. In doing so, Donald Trump becomes the third president in US history to be impeached. The other two were Andrew Johnson (1868) and Bill Clinton (1998) although Richard Nixon was a near miss. It is also crucial to note that neither president was removed from power. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that you may have about impeachment. 

Was the July Phone Call the Reason Behind Trump's Impeachment?

The House voted on two charges against Trump, namely obstruction of Congress and abusing power. The July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy certainly played a crucial part in leveling the abuse of power charges.

In the call, Trump was pressuring the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden while withholding military aid worth $391 million from Ukraine. Trump also pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate a theory that Ukraine was behind any meddling in the election of 2016 instead of Russia. The aid was released in September but the damage had been done as inquiries had already started.

What is an Impeachable Offense?

Some people may think that Trump can use strong-arm tactics in order to negotiate with other countries. Unfortunately, anything that the president does is a possible impeachable offense if the House decides so. According to the Constitution in Article II, Section 4, “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” can lead to an impeachment.

However, the vague nature of the last statement about high misdemeanors and crimes can mean anything. Even more confusing is the fact that a crime may not be deemed as an impeachable offense. However, an activity that is not a crime may be considered an impeachable offense. The reason for this is that impeachment serves to unseat a person from office for violating the public’s trust and not because of criminal acts.

Did the President Have a Say in the House Proceeding?

During the proceedings headed by the judiciary committee, Trump could have asked the members to take a look at extra evidence. However, that would have been a request only since the committee would have the power to deny. It is a moot point at the moment because the president did not cooperate with the House inquiry and the votes have already been cast.

What Does the Law Say About Hearsay?

Earlier this year, when the inquiries began, the Republicans cried foul by stating that everything used in the investigation was hearsay. If they had been right, then the hearings would probably have been unsuccessful. In criminal proceedings, hearsay can be used although impeachment hearings do not recognize hearsay.

How Did the Vote Go?

There was an intensive and extensive debate before the actual vote started with different members arguing for and against impeachment. However, when the vote happened, Trump lost on both charges, which is not really surprising since Democrats control the House. On the abuse of power charge, Trump lost 230-197 while he had 229-198 votes against him on obstruction of Congress.

Well, What Happens Now?

The impeachment articles will now be forwarded to the Senate for Senators to conduct their own investigation. The trial, which is going to be presided over by the chief justice of the US Supreme Court, will then vote just as the House did. For the Senate to convict Trump, there has to be a two-thirds majority, which is unlikely to happen since Republicans control it. The Senate hearing starts as soon as the impeachment articles are received.

Who will Become President if Trump Loses?

In the event that Trump loses his seat, which is unlikely, then Mike Pence, the Vice President will assume power. Pence would see out Trump’s remaining term, which comes to a closure on January 20, 2021. Interestingly, there is nothing forbidding Pence from naming Trump the Vice President and then resigning himself.

Can an Impeached President be Reelected?

The simple answer is yes. If he loses his seat, Trump will be definitely be damaged politically and his chances of reelection would suffer. However, that does not equate to an outright ban. It should be noted that the Senate could remove him and prohibit him from running for office again.

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