The Process of Impeachment


Robinson Lee, Staff Writer

As the impeachment proceedings of President Donald Trump are on its way, it’s important to understand this crucial process that will affect the entire nation. Though many believe that impeachment is the removal of the President from office, it actually refers to the process of charging a government official with a crime, with the most distinct penalty being a complete removal from office. As impeachment is largely a legislative tradition that is quite distinct from formal judicial trial proceedings, usually the rules of how the impeachment is conducted changes depending on the Congress at the time. But the process has been standardized over time and for the purposes of organization, it can be split into four different steps. It should be noted that, due to relevance, this article will only be pertaining to the process of the presidential impeachment, not any other type.

First, the House of Representatives announces its intentions to conduct an investigation concerning the President. This usually begins the process of impeachment and can be initiated in many different ways, including passing bills to authorizing inquiries. Currently, this step has been initiated by the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, as she announced to the public that the House was opening an inquiry in September.

The second step concerns the appointment of different councils to investigate the possible charges, which could entail formal charges. These committees report to the Judiciary Committee, who then drafts articles of impeachment to present to the rest of the house. In theory, any Congressperson in the house can introduce articles of impeachment, but it has always been traditionally done by the Judiciary Committee. In terms of the Trump impeachment inquiry, there are six committees that are investigating the President’s conduct: the House Judiciary Committee, the House Oversight Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, the House Financial Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Intelligence Committee, who is leading the investigation. In this situation, the information collected by the investigation would have to go through Jerry Sadler, Head of the House Judiciary Committee, before it is introduced to the House.

The third step is quite simple, as it entails the House of Representatives holding a simple majority vote on whether Congress should proceed on impeachment. If more than 50% of the House approves the impeachment, then the trial will begin in the Senate. At the time of writing this article, the House has not reached this point, but if each Congressperson votes based on party lines, it is likely that a trial will be conducted, as, currently, Democrats have the majority in the House of Representatives.

The fourth and final step is the most pressing point of the impeachment process, as it will determine the fate of the Presidency. The trial will consist of many testimonies and accounts of the President’s supposed crimes, and will end in a vote on whether the President gets impeached or not. The Senate must have a two-thirds majority to successfully remove the President from office. Again, at the time of writing this article, Congress has not reached this stage, but assuming that the Senators vote on a party-line, the President will be impeached, but not removed from office. 

Without a doubt, the current Trump impeachment will greatly impact the nation. But, it should be kept in mind that the proceedings are definitely political in nature and influenced greatly by Congress, rather than pure rigid formality. As the inquiry continues, the world waits and watches to see the fate of President Trump.

Graphics courtesy of VANITYFAIR.COM