On December 18th, 2019, articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump were passed by the House. The House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, will need to send those articles to the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. A Senate trial will then ensue with witnesses being called. After all evidence is heard, the Senate will take a vote and the President will either be convicted of such charges or exonerated of these charges. Conviction of these charges will lead to his immediate removal from office, at which point, Vice President Mike Pence will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
What is an impeachment?
Impeachments are indictments; similar to what is handed down from a grand jury. Impeachments do not remove a President from office. Impeachment charges are articles to which witnesses have testified and have sworn that the President’s actions, warrant an indication and further consideration for trial for “high crimes and misdemeanors”. A majority vote from the House of Representatives is required for this indictment.
House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi will need to send the Impeachment Articles to the Senate for the trial to begin. The House Speaker is also charged with developing a list of Impeachment Managers (a prosecution team) that will present the case to the Senate. The Senate trial is a juried trial; with each Senator being party of that juried party. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will preside over the trial and witnesses will be called to support the charges.
Unlike the House of Representatives, a Senate impeachment requires a 2/3rds super majority. All senators are required to attend.
The Constitution and Rule of Law
Article I, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7 provide:The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present. Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States; but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
Can the President pardon himself if convicted?
No. Article II, Section 2 provides:[The President] … shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.
Could Trump run for President in 2020?
Article I, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7 states: “Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States; “, there has been precedence in which a Senate impeached official was granted the ability to hold public office again.
“Since ratification, four troublesome questions have arisen under this clause. The first was whether the Senate may impose the sanctions of removal and disqualification separately and, if so, how. The Senate claims that it may impose these sanctions by separate votes: (1) removal, involving the ouster of an official from the office he occupies at the time of his impeachment trial, and (2) disqualification barring the person from ever serving again in the federal government.”
Michael J. Gerhardt Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law Director, Center for Law and Government
The College of William and Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law
Is there a precedence for this?
Actually there are several! U.S. District Judge Alcee L. Hastings was removed from office in 1989, after he was impeached in the House for engaging in a “corrupt conspiracy” — soliciting a $150,000 bribe in a case before him — and convicted in the Senate. But the Senate took no vote on disqualification. In 1992, Hastings ran for and won a seat from Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he remains to this day.
What does this all mean?
If the Senate decides to convict the President on the articles of impeachment, the President will be removed from office and the Vice President will be sworn in as the 46th President.
It also means that if the Senate holds no vote or receives a minority vote on disqualification or censorship from holding public office again, then the President can run for Presidential office once again.
It’s all quesswork of how history books will finally script the corrosive social discord and nature of this presidency. The body count from this silent civil unrest continues to climb. The nuclear fallout of interfamilial wars, of friendships broken and shattered; of the entrenched pure hatred that Americans have acquired for one another, has yet to be tallied. The body count of soured souls has yet to be fully appreciated.
Albeit not in the conventional or historical perspective, America is in a civil war. Don’t think that you are not. We see anger every day and it is the President of the United States who has been the ringleader pulling these strings.
Although I oppose this president, I won’t be flippant in my opposition based on party affiliation. The President has made some strides in some areas. Our military is stronger; the economy has maintained some positive growth. This article could argue against the ever growing debt; the preposterous notion that we are at war with illegal immigrants that requires a wall; the slow dissolvement of the middle class; the 1% tax, etc.
But the one issue I have with this President, is his inability to bring the nation together – to be indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. There is an entire swath of Americans that feel disenchanted; a majority who feel they have no voice.
President Trump is one of only 5 Presidents to ever be elected without achieving the majority vote.
It’s time for this President to live up to the Oath of Office and speak for all Americans – not just those that listen to Fox News. It’s time to heal these wounds of civil unrest. There needs to be an accountability for all Americans. It’s time to be the bigger person and do what’s right for America.
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