Guilty Pleas and Convictions, How Realistic Is The Impeachment Of President Donald Trump?
After the conviction of former head of President Donald Trump’s campaign, Paul Manafort, on eight of the 18 counts he was charged with and the guilty plea of the president’s former attorney Michael Cohen, talk of impeachment has gotten hot again. But how feasible is the prospect of impeachment against the president?
First one has to begin at the beginning. What does it take to impeach and remove a president from office? There are seven steps.
Step one is that the Justice Department, or in this case a special counsel, presents charges to the House Judiciary Committee.
In steps two and three the House Judiciary Committee investigates the charges and then drafts the Articles of Impeachment.
The judiciary committee debates the articles of impeachment in step four and then presents the articles to the entire House to begin step five.
The fifth step is the House vote. A majority of the members of the House of Representatives have to vote to impeach the president. It is extraordinarily tough for this to happen while the president’s party controls the House. But for the sake of this piece let’s pretend that the Democrats win the House in the midterms, an entirely plausible situation.
Step six is that the Senate holds a trial. In this trial the House Judiciary Committee acts as the prosecutor, the president’s attorneys present its evidence, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts, a Republican, acts as the judge in the case and the Senate, which will most likely continue to be Republican controlled, acts as the jury.
To remove the president from office you need, step seven, a 2/3 majority (67) of the Republican Senate to remove the Republican president.
Impeaching a president by his own party would essentially be career suicide for any senator, Republican or Democrat. But it is even tough for an opposing party to successfully remove a president. It is so tough that it has never been done in the history of the United States. Two presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, were impeached but were not convicted.
In other words, the idea of President Trump being removed from office is nothing more than a pipe dream of his detractors barring a crime that is so drastic that the president’s own supporters want him gone. It won’t happen on a technicality of a campaign finance violation.
That is particularly true when supporters are able to point to the fact that former President Obama’s campaign was ordered to pay one of the largest fines ever of its type, $375,000, for committing campaign finance violations during the 2008 presidential campaign.
And former President Obama was not the first presidential candidate to have to pay fines for campaign finance violations. Republican candidate for president, Sen. Bob Dole, first set the record for fines when his campaign was fined $100,000 for his 1996 presidential campaign.
Republicans appear to be rallying around the president and his supporters remain in his corner. The chances of this president being impeached and successfully removed from office are infinitesimal.
In fact, the talk of impeachment could be precisely what Republicans need to drive voters to the polls in November to retain control of the House. Rather than removing the president from office, it could be the biggest backfire in the history of American politics.