Impeaching a President
Stacy M. Brown @StacyBrownMedia | 10/2/2019, 1:59 p.m.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to move for an impeachment inquiry into President Trump has rocked Washington.
The news of the resulting investigation has also unified Democrats, particularly those like Rep. Maxine Waters of California, who has argued for some time that Trump should face impeachment.
“Donald Trump has admitted to abusing the power of the presidency by asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation into his political opponent in order to get dirt that the Trump campaign could exploit in the 2020 U.S. presidential election,” Waters stated.
Trump allegedly asked Zelensky to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, the current frontrunner to be the Democratic candidate in the 2020 election.
“This action within itself – where the president is seeking the cooperation and assistance of a foreign government in uncovering dirt on his opponent – is unlawful, unconstitutional, and unpatriotic. I am elated that the Congress of the United States will move forward in an expedited manner to investigate and impeach this president,” Waters said.
Still, experts and historians said that the probability of impeaching Trump remains extremely low.
The idea of impeachment as drafted into the Constitution by its framers, is designed to establish the process whereby we can remove a President from office that was engaged in unlawful activity, said David Reischer, an attorney and CEO of LegalAdvice.com.
“Technically, the House and Senate can impeach President Trump purely for political reasons but the standard by which to get sufficient votes in the House and Senate is whether ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors’ have been committed,” Reischer added.
Section 4 of Article Two of the United States Constitution reads:
“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.”
The Constitution requires a two-thirds super-majority among Senators voting for conviction because the framers wanted to establish that removal from high office via any process that, thereby, overturns the vote (the will) of the electorate, justifies and requires a high burden of proof, according to experts.
“Like the Mueller report, while the allegations against the president are serious, the allegations stop just short of actually concluding that a crime had been committed,” stated Reischer.
Removal is not the only reason to launch a formal impeachment inquiry, according to Sam Nelson, an associate professor and chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Toledo.
“Many observers have focused on the futility of impeachment given that a Republican-controlled Senate will almost certainly not vote to remove the President,” Nelson noted.
He added that the impeachment investigation into President Richard Nixon proved that the proceedings could move public opinion when there is evidence presented in an open forum.
Additionally, an official inquiry strengthens the hand of the six committees already investigating the president and his administration, Nelson said, adding, “These committees are locked in legal battles with the White House over subpoenas, witness testimony, and executive privilege.”