As the allegations of misconduct by President Trump are constantly in the news, the word “impeachment” gets tossed around, implying that he is on the verge of being removed from office.
While some congressmen know that using this word excites their voters, President Trump will not be impeached or removed from office. Here is why.
He is a political newcomer whose unconventional and “tell it like he sees it” manner served him well in getting elected, but has been challenging when getting acclimated to leading the world.
But, despite what he may or may not have done, its next to impossible to impeach, convict, and remove a president from office. It is even more difficult in a hyper-partisan environment like we see today.
The main reasons Trump will not be impeached, are (1) the process is dominated by politics and (2) mathematics.
Removing presidents is a political process because impeachment and any ensuing presidential trial are carried out by the House of Representatives and the Senate, which are partisan bodies.
Mathematically, as long as Republicans control Congress, any effort to impeach President Trump would not gain traction.
Well, what is impeachment? The term “impeachment” dates back centuries to England, where it was a device for prosecuting lords and high officials who were beyond the reach of the courts. In the U.S., an article of impeachment is somewhat like a count in an indictment. Articles of impeachment are the formal charges the defendant president must defend against.
The Framers of the Constitution set up the impeachment process to give Congress the power to remove the president from power:
• First, the House of Representatives has the power to impeach the president. A simple majority is necessary for an article of impeachment to be approved.
• Then the process moves to the Senate, where a trial will be held, with the chief justice of the Supreme Court presiding.
• Finally, it takes a two-thirds vote from the Senate to convict a president on any article. Conviction on any article would then remove the president from office and put the vice president in power.
67 votes is a very high threshold. The Framers intentionally did not make it easy for Congress to remove an elected president from power.
How many presidents have faced impeachment and trial?
The only two American presidents ever to have been impeached were Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998-99. Neither were convicted and removed from office (although Johnson escaped conviction by a single vote). Both former presidents faced a House that despised them. Both presidents were accused of petty, technical “crimes”, and both cases were almost completely motivated by partisan politics.
In a more serious matter, President Richard Nixon was headed toward certain impeachment and probable conviction in 1974. Rather than put American through a trial, he honorably resigned his office. No other president has come close to being impeached.
So, why is President Trump not going to be impeached?
Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton all faced Congresses controlled by their political enemies.
President Trump does not have that problem. As long as Republicans control Congress, there is almost no chance that impeachment proceedings would even begin.
Even if Democrats retake the House and do approve articles of impeachment in the future, the Senate would not convict because the two-thirds barrier could not be overcome.
The only real scenario that could change the impeachment discussion in the future would be if President Trump committed such a significant criminal offense that a large block of the Republican Party turned against him. Then, his impeachment and possible conviction would become a reality.
But if the topic remains partisan, enemies of the President have only speeches and wishful thinking in their arsenals.
The impeachment of President Trump is not a reality today.