The Process of Impeachment

The Process of Impeachment

Andrew Lawson, Editor

Politics can be very confusing and complicated especially when it comes to topics like impeachment. Since impeachment is being pursued again it is important to explain the process for those that aren’t informed on politics. An impeachment proceeding is the formal process of accusing a president or other office holder of wrongdoing. It is important to note that this is a political process not a criminal one. Therefore, the accused doesn’t face criminal liability with a vote to impeach or convict. The process begins in the House of Representatives when a member requests to launch a proceeding. Then it is up to the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to decide whether to move forward with it.

Normally, an investigation would take place before a full House vote, but as the President’s term was coming to an end the process was sped up. There needs to be a majority in the house for the process to move forward. If the majority isn’t reached then the person remains in their office. The next step is sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate. The Speaker of the House chooses when to transfer the articles and could eventually decide not to transfer them at all, effectively ending the process there.

Once the Senate receives the articles of impeachment a trial could begin quickly with the party in control determining the schedule and pace of the trial. After the trial wraps up, the vote to convict will be up for a full Senate vote. If less than two-thirds, or 67 Senators, vote to convict then the President is acquitted. However, if more than two-thirds vote to convict then the President is convicted of the impeachment charge, and removed from office immediately.

The process could end there, or what’s more likely in this case is that a vote to bar from holding office again will take place. This vote is only possible after a vote to convict gets two-thirds majority and will be much easier to garner support for. A vote to bar from holding office only needs a majority of the Senate meaning 51 out of the 100 Senators. If the vote garners a majority then the convicted is barred from holding public office and if the vote doesn’t get a majority then the convicted isn’t. There is some discussion about whether this bars someone from holding the presidency though, Brian Kalt, a Michigan State University law professor, says “There is some debate as to whether the disqualification clause covers the presidency, or instead only covers appointed office.” That is how the process could play out and although this process is very complicated hopefully this article made it easier to understand.