Impeachment in Brief

Matt Brown, News Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The word “impeachment” has been circling the media recently as national media has spit out an abundance of confusing, twisty, hard-to-follow content. Only three US presidents have ever faced the prospect of impeachment, making this recent development worthy of its spotlight. However, the current circumstances can be easily misconstrued, so here are the basics.

 

The Ukraine Call

 

President Trump engaged in a conversation via phone call with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, on July 25. According to the rough transcript released by the White House, Trump requested that Zelensky work with Attorney General William Barr and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to dig up information on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. The transcript is not a direct word-for-word encounter of what was said between the presidents, as translations and such make documenting the call exactly as it happened incredibly difficult. House Democrats claim that the call insinuated a sort of a quid pro quo, or rather “I’ll do this if you do that.” In this case, Democrats argue Trump implied he would provide increased military aid for Ukraine in return for “dirt” on his greatest competitor in the upcoming election.

 

The Whistleblower 

 

                  A whistleblower is a person that “blows the whistle” on possibly illegal activity being rolled out by a government agency or official. There are official laws and protocols in place to protect whistleblowers from persecution in their attempts to shed light on corruption and inappropriate behavior, one being their right to anonymity.

On Aug. 12, an anonymous CIA officer filed a whistleblower complaint about the phone call with the US Inspector General. The Inspector General’s job is to determine if government officials are following the law and acting according to protocol. After reviewing the complaint, the Inspector General confirmed there was cause for concern and notified the Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire. Maguire’s job is to present complaints to the House Intelligence Committee, but Maguire curved this step and presented the complaint to the White House instead. This out-of-the-ordinary action has been fuel for the impeachment inquiry and has sounded many alarms that the President may have engaged in criminal or inappropriate behavior.

 

Impeachment 

 

                  What’s important to understand is that “impeachment inquiry” does not mean Trump will be removed from office. In fact, impeachment doesn’t mean that. A president can be impeached and not removed from office; presidents Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson are the only two presidents to be impeached, but both finished their terms.

When the House of Representatives impeaches a sitting president, they basically are proving that the president in question broke the law. Following impeachment, a trial is held in the Senate, during which senators act as a jury to determine if the president’s crimes warrant his removal from office. A two-thirds majority is required in the Senate to remove a sitting president from office.

No, at this moment, President Trump has not been impeached; nor is he close to it. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement regarding impeachment was to announce that the House has begun an inquiry into his actions and will soon announce whether or not his actions warrant the filing of any articles of impeachment.