Impeachment was created by the founders of the constitution as a way to hold a president responsible for a crime and to have a trial to determine if he/she is guilty. There are two actions, treason and bribery, which could lead to the impeachment and expulsion of a president from office. A president can also be accused and found responsible of misdemeanors and high crimes. It is difficult to impeach a president. Here are the steps:
First the House of Representatives will announce the decision to impeach a president.
Then the Speaker of the House will direct the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary level to have a hearing to decide whether to have the full chamber vote on the measure and when to have the vote. The majority of the Judiciary Committee must agree with the resolution.
If the Judiciary Committee approves the decision then the House Floor will vote. If a simple majority on the House Floor agree with an article of impeachment then the president will be impeached.
The process then goes to the Senate where a trial is held to determine if the president is guilty of the crime accused.
During the trial Members of the House act as prosecutors and provide the evidence. The counsel would represent the president during the procedure. The U.S. Supreme Court’s chief justice leads the trial. Senators will listen to the evidence and will vote whether or not the president is guilty. In order to be convicted you need a ⅔ majority vote.
If the president is found guilty they are taken out of office and the vice president will become president.
Currently, the U.S. president is accused of abuse of power. Concern from a whistleblower began the process. There are speculations that he sought help from the president of Ukraine to sabotage Joe Biden’s campaign in order to boost his own likelihood of re-election in 2020. He is accused of refusing to give $400 million of military aid to Ukraine (which was already issued by congress) as well as offering a meeting in the White House for the Ukrainian president. The president denies any wrongdoing. The Congress voted to send this to the full chamber for a vote. If the Senate finds him guilty of these crimes he will be impeached and removed from office.
In all of history there have only been three impeachments. Since this is so rare, many people are unaware of what an impeachment actually is and how it works. Ava Kaplan, a student at the Weber School commented on the impeachment, “I do not know much about impeachments because there have been so few of them but I do know that it is when a president is convicted and proven guilty of a crime and it results in the president leaving office.” As students and teachers we learn about our government from books. This is an opportunity for us to watch history unfold in real time. This week our country will watch as the senate votes on our sitting presidents fate. Not only his fate, but ours too.