Impeachment: This is how impeachment proceedings work in the US

What lies, insults, and violations of written and unwritten rules failed, has now been achieved by the violent storming of the US Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters: many Republicans are now turning away from the US President, and some are in favor of impeachment proceedings.

Now the US House of Representatives is likely to initiate a second such trial against Trump. Vice President Mike Pence had previously rejected the demand for Trump to be removed early. The Democrats accuse the elected president of “inciting a riot”.

US presidents can be removed in a two-step process.

  • The initiation of the indictment, the so-called impeachment, by the House of Representatives forms the first phase. Any member of the House of Representatives can initiate an impeachment. A simple majority is sufficient to forward the proceedings to the Senate. The Democrats have enough votes for this even without Republican support.

  • The trial of the president will be held in senate led, the other chamber of the US Congress. Specifically, delegates from the House of Representatives present the impeachment to the Senate. This writes a complaint and informs the accused. If the impeachment is directed against the President, the Senate is presided over by the Chief Justice of the United States.

The Senate must decide whether to “convict” and remove the president from office. This requires a two-thirds majority, which is considered difficult to achieve. If the President is convicted, the Senate can also vote on whether the convicted person may still take up public office in the future.

Has a US president been deposed this way?

No, in the history of the United States no president has lost his office through impeachment. Before Trump, there were only two attempts to remove a president from office in this way.

  • 1868 a case was initiated against Andrew Johnson for removing the Secretary of War without the required Senate approval. The Senate acquitted the president, but only one vote was missing for condemnation.

  • 1998 initiated the majority Republican House of Representatives in the course of the Lewinsky affair against the Democrat Bill Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice. It also failed.

And in 1974 US President Richard Nixon resigned from an impeachment after the Watergate affair. Donald Trump would be the first President in US history to face impeachment proceedings twice – in just one term.

How likely is it that Trump will be deposed?

At least more likely than the first time. At the time, the Democrats accused Trump of having put Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi under pressure to investigate Joe Biden’s son – with the aim of giving himself an advantage in the election campaign against the Democrats.

But the problem is still: Even if the Democrats have enough votes in the House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings, they lack the necessary two-thirds majority in the Senate.

Even though some Republican politicians have now openly turned their backs on Trump after the attack on the Capitol, and some have even announced that they will join a possible impeachment process, it is uncertain whether enough Republicans in the Senate will vote with the Democrats.

And even if it did, it is unlikely that the impeachment proceedings will come to an official result before January 20th. Then Trump will have to give up his office anyway. An exclusion from public office for the elected president would have to be decided in a separate procedure.

Icon: The mirror

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *