By Lauren Cohn
By now, I’m sure everyone has heard of President Donald Trump’s recent impeachment, at least to a degree. Whether you have just heard the word tossed around or have been scouring the news for updates, it is clear that this announcement has left its mark, but what exactly does it all mean? What is impeachment and what are the next steps?
For starters, an important distinction must be made between impeachment and removal from office, as they are often confused for one another despite their differences. When a president commits a high crime like treason or behaves in unconstitutional ways, the House of Representatives can begin the process of removing him from office through impeachment. Essentially, impeachment acts as a final check on the president’s power, but does not necessarily imply that he will be removed from office as it is only the first step of the process. Donald Trump is the third president in United States history to get impeached, which only goes to show how momentous these past few months have been
Reaching impeachment can take a long time, as evidence needs to be collected to prove the wrongdoings of the president and representatives must be meticulous and careful when going about the process. Before a president can officially become impeached, the House of Representatives must draft the articles of impeachment, describing what the president has done that warrants this action. In President Trump’s case, the House, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, moved to impeach him on two counts: abuse of power and obstruction of congress. The House accused Mr. Trump of blackmailing Ukraine by withholding aid and preventing Congress from investigating, but those who support the Republican party and Mr. Trump have denounced the accusations, calling the process a “hoax”.
All of these time consuming steps culminated in the House with a vote, one that was greatly divided primarily along party lines. However, because of the Democratic majority, the articles were approved. President Trump was officially impeached.
At this point, the articles have been sent to the Senate, where there will be a trial and another vote to determine whether or not President Trump will truly be removed from office. So, while the president has been impeached by the House, there is no guarantee that the Senate will agree and actually remove him. The Republican party rules the Senate, so chances of removal are extremely low given party loyalty; yet, this event still marks an important milestone in American history, representing a call to action by those who disapprove of the current administration and the further polarity of political parties as the process continues to divide the nation.
UPDATED February 5, 2020: The senate has voted on whether to remove President Trump and the result is exactly as expected. Members of the Senate voted along party lines, with the exception of one Republican, Mitt Romney, who voted for removal. So, the president will not be removed from office and has been acquitted on both articles of impeachment, marking the end of this historic trial.