The House of Representatives is currently conducting an impeachment inquiry into President Trump over allegations initiated by a second-hand whistleblower saying he pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. That inquiry, which has been going on behind closed doors, is set to enter a new phase this week, Wednesday, November 13th with the first public hearings. Here’s what you need to know about the impeachment process, and the politics of this “inquiry”.
What is impeachment?
Impeachment is when congress thinks the president is no longer fit to serve and should be removed from office. It is written in Article II of the Constitution, which sets up the presidency and executive branch but also lays out a way to remove the president. The key clause is: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Who can impeach the president?
Congress. Specifically, the House of Representatives. Under the framework of the Constitution, the House can vote to impeach a president for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” It’s up to the House to decide what the phrase means its application.
But impeaching the president is not the same thing as removing the president from office. To determine whether that happens, the Senate holds a trial presided over by the chief justice of the United States.
Currently, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) is currently leading the investigation, despite accusations that the whistleblower had prior contact with Schiff and his team. Schiff is working with two other committees (Government Oversight and Foreign Affairs). If the investigations conclude that there is cause for impeachment, the House Judiciary Committee will draw up articles of impeachment, and the Judiciary Committee and then the full House will vote on them. The process will then move to the Republican majority Senate.
Below is President Trump’s summation and perspective of the call:
What I said on the phone call with the Ukrainian President is “perfectly” stated. There is no reason to call witnesses to analyze my words and meaning. This is just another Democrat Hoax that I have had to live with from the day I got elected (and before!). Disgraceful!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2019
Impeachment doesn’t mean “removal from office.” It’s the political equivalent of a grand jury indictment, with the House fully empowered to impeach any action it deems impeachable. It’s up to the Senate to decide whether a president should be removed.
The Federalist Papers are clear: Impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. Illegal acts are surely impeachable, but not all impeachable acts are illegal. As mentioned referenced by commentary in the Chicago Tribune , if the president stood on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office and shouted obscenities on national television while dancing in the nude, that would be impeachable but not illegal (FCC violations notwithstanding).
The big picture:
This entire Biden-Ukraine narrative began with “Secret Empires,” a book by Breitbart’s senior contributor Peter Schweizer. Ahead of the last election, Schweizer published “Clinton Cash,” which portrayed Bill and Hillary Clinton as corrupt grifters and set the tone of some influential coverage in 2016. (Trump promoted Schweizer’s book on Twitter October 5th.)
As well, according to Breitbart News Republicans continue to hold an edge over vulnerable Democrats in swing districts, internal polling from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) suggests. Per the NRCC memo:
In NRCC target seats, voters oppose impeachment: 44% support – 47% oppose. In Republican-held
battleground seats voters oppose impeachment: 46%-49%.Fifty-one percent of independent voters in NRCC target seats oppose impeaching the President.Democrats are only consolidating their own base (80% of Democrats across the survey support impeachment) while alienating independents.
I believe we will see a lengthy impeachment battle that will uncover no crime while showing that congressional Democrats are more intent on pursuing a vendetta against a president than working for and helping the people they’re elected to serve. This will fallout to voters ultimately making the decision both locally, and on a national, federal scale.