Trump Impeachment Explained

Will President Donald Trump’s term end early? On Tues., Sept. 24, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the launch of formal impeachment inquiries. 


Normally, the president serves a four-year term. However, if enough congressmen vote that the president has done something unconstitutional, then a process called impeachment will occur. Ms. Holly Hodel, SHS AP government teacher, said that a common misconception about impeachment is that the president is automatically removed from office. That is not the case. 


Once the House of Representatives issues the articles of impeachment, the 435 members of House discuss, debate, and vote. If the majority of the House votes to impeach Trump, he will be impeached. He will still carry out all presidential duties until he has been voted to be removed from office. 


To be removed from office, the Senate will hold a trial. If less than two-thirds vote to remove from office, “the whole thing just goes away,” Hodel said. However, if two-thirds or more vote for removal, then Trump is removed and Vice President Mike Pence will step into office. 


“Essentially, there’s a year of time right now that this process could take place,” Hodel said. In fact, the articles of impeachment have not even been issued, meaning that the process had barely started. Six committees in the House are investigating accusations right now. 


There are two main issues that are being investigated, according to Hodel. One is a phone conversation Trump had with the president of Ukraine. Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate Democratic candidate for nomination, Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter. 


According to the Washington Post, Hunter Biden joined the board of a Ukrainian gas company half a decade ago. This caused some questions to arise about potential criminal wrong-doing, though there is no evidence proving this true. Attempting to find evidence of this, Trump asked Ukraine president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate further, which could be seen in a corrupt light given Biden is a political rival. 


The other side of the investigation has to do with the nearly $400 million the U.S. gives to Ukraine as aid. In the transcript to the phone call, there was mention of the U.S. withholding this money. Hodel said basically the perception is that Trump is using the aid-money as leverage in order to get the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden.


In all of U.S. history, there have been two presidents impeached but neither removed, so it is a “really big deal,” Hodel said. “I think there’s a lot about the Trump presidency that is unprecedented, like we’ve not had a president like him—which some seem as great and others can see as really bad.”