The Impeachment



President Donald Trump is still running for reelection for the 2020 presidency, despite being impeached.

  Talk of impeachment and possible removal of President Donald Trump from office took center stage in January. But his supporters are breathing easier since he was acquitted. This means he is still presiding in the White House. The House has charged the president with a “high crime or misdemeanor,” quoted in Article II, Sect. IV of the Constitution. Then, on Feb. 5, Trump was acquitted by the U.S. Senate, and therefore will stay in office for the end of his term. 

   A “high crime or misdemeanor” can mean several things: treason, bribery, abuse of power. The Constitution is vague in describing the impeachable offences, but the House decided Trump was subject to high crimes and misdemeanors. In the Articles of Impeachment done by the House — which are available online for anyone to read if they’re looking for more information — Trump was charged for abusing his power as president by disregarding the protection of national security and paying a “foriegn power” for his own political gain. The House decided that Trump will continue to put the national security at a threat if he continues in office, so they impeached him. However, Trump will continue to stay in office because the Senate decided he is not guilty of any high crimes or misdemeanors. Some are speculating how the impeachment will affect Trump’s intention of running for reelection.

   “No president who has been impeached during their first term has attempted to run for reelection, so the political consequences of being impeached at the ballot box are unknown,” American Government and World History teacher Clinton Longwell said. 

   Impeachment can be hard to understand regardless of whether he removed from office. 

   “That’s where a lot of people get confused,” Longwell said. “If you’re impeached, that just means you’ve been accused of wrongdoing. President Trump has been impeached. He is still in office. He can still run for reelection. Only the Senate voting to remove him with two-thirds of a vote removes him from office.”

   The senate needed 67 votes in order to remove Trump from power. For the first article of impeachment — abuse of power — was voted down by the Senate by a vote of 48 to 52. The second article of impeachment — obstruction of Congress — was rejected by a vote of 47 to 53.

   The road of impeachment is a long and winding one, so it’s important to keep up with the news. 

   “What usually happens is that you have some sort of investigation that is conducted by the House of Representatives — in one of the committees,” Longwell said. “Then the judiciary committee draws up Articles of Impeachment, notifying whatever member of the Executive branch or the Judicial branch what they’re being accused of. That is taken to the full House of Representatives where you just need a simple majority for an article to impeach someone.”

   This is not the end of the long trail impeached offenders must follow.

   “After an individual has been impeached, the process moves over to the Senate where there’s kind of a trial — it’s a little bit different — it really depends on what the U.S. Senate determines the rules for an impeachment hearing should be,” Longwell said. “They make up those rules, and then the Senators in the Senate serve as the jury.”

   In the past, only two other presidents have been fully impeached: Andrew Johnson and William Clinton. Neither were removed from office. Many Americans think that the infamous Richard Nixon was taken from office by impeachment due to the Watergate scandal, but he resigned before Congress could impeach him. 

   “Impeaching a president is a political action,” Longwell said. “What people in different time periods view as a ‘high crime and misdemeanor’ differs and whether or not an individual — if they charge them through impeachment with a high crime and misdemeanor as an impeachable offense — it differs from time period to time period. Obviously, if you look at the split in the country now between the Republicans and the Democrats — with Democrats, a majority are looking and saying, ‘this certainly is an impeachable offence,’ and the Republicans are like, ‘no it’s not.’”

   Reelection for Trump is his current plan. Unfortunately for himself, being impeached is not something voters admire. 

   “[It] depends on who the Democrats run,” Longwell said. “I will say this, the likelihood of President Trump being removed from office is very very very low, but being impeached is not necessarily something that you want to have on your presidential record. You’re going to be brought up every year from here on out in high school government class about the three presidents who’ve been impeached: Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. As for whether or not that will change the way a lot of people vote in this country, it’s hard to say. You’ve seen Trump’s poll numbers support remain relatively steady throughout his presidency. It’s whether or not he can fill in the next 4-8 percent to get over the mark.”

   It is hard to truly tell whether students will be affected by the impeachment because the support for Trump hasn’t changed in recent polls. Although, it does affect the way they participate in class.

   “What I think it really does is it’s a way to see the government in action,” Longwell said. “It’s a way to get students into government and politics — which can be difficult sometimes just because there are some who are super into it and some who could care less. When you get students in regular government and students in World History asking questions about impeachment or about Iran — well it gets them engaged.” 

   As students get more involved with the impeachment trials, it is important for them to know that they — along with any citizen — have ways to support Trump or his impeachment, or at least support other legislative actions. U.S. Senators are supposed to listen to their constituents, so students can contact them if the impeachment decision is important to them. 

   “If you want your member of Congress, your Senator, to vote a certain way, call their office over and over and over and over again honestly,” Longwell said. “Blow up their phone lines — not literally blow up but call them often to the point where — that’s the best way. Because those interns don’t like answering the phones and it’s the same person yelling at them over and over and over again.”

   Current Missouri US Senators, Josh Hawley and Roy Blunt, are Republican, so they supported Trump during the Senate trial. The president’s overall support hasn’t changed much since his election, even considering the impeachment. 

   “The country is so divided as is that I don’t see a whole lot of difference or greater division than we had before the impeachment — before the election of President Trump,” Longwell said. “We’ve kind of gone off into our corners and if you’re Republican you don’t think that it’s worthy impeachment and if you’re Democrat then you think it is worthy impeachment — it just kinda depends on your political viewpoint.”