Impeachment for Dummies

Why our government is essentially just a bigger version of a preschool.

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Mother Jones illustration; Evan Vucci/AP; Michael A. McCoy/ZUMA; Getty

President Trump has been impeached; what next?

What the heck is impeachment? Is it a tasty food that can go into a cobbler? No. 

Is it a government term used to describe the removal of the sitting president of the United States? Yes. 

Our parents remember the near-impeachment of former President Richard Nixon and the impeachment of Bill Clinton, but this generation is now seeing the process begin to take place against current President, Donald Trump. Recently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (who essentially runs the House of Representatives) started the proceedings regarding the impeachment of Trump. 

The process of removing the president from office is long and requires a lot of agreement on both sides of the aisle, which, in this particular political climate, is like trying to get your significant other to choose a place to eat: nearly impossible. 

On December 18, 2019, after hours of debate within the House of Representatives, there was a final vote in regards to the two charges of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power against President Trump. Although it was largely split between party lines, it was decided that Trump was guilty on both counts, meaning he was officially impeached. 

However, the proceedings don’t end there, as there will be a hearing that decides if Trump will be removed from office, that is led by the Senate. Within this hearing, the U.S. Chief Justice (which is currently Judge John Roberts) will preside over the case, and the Senate will sit as the jury. Like any other court case, evidence and testimonies may be brought forward and presented. Once both the defendant and the prosecutor have concluded their case, the jury of senators will deliberate and decide whether Trump can be convicted and removed from office. In order for Trump to be removed, there must be a 67% or supermajority vote that he is guilty. 

But what does this mean for his candidacy in the 2020 election? The only way that Trump would never be able to hold office again is if it is specifically stated if he is convicted. So, if Trump is convicted and removed from office, unless it is stated, there is nothing stopping him from running again, if not being elected. 

As of January 5, 2020, the trial has not begun. In order to proceed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must release the articles of impeachment to the Senate and name case managers. Without these actions, the trial cannot begin.