Just what does impeachment mean?

Trying to decipher what is happening

Shelby Jackson, staff writer

As the United States Congress continues the “made-for-television” impeachment hearings on President Donald Trump, we try to answer some of the questions regarding the process.

What is impeachment? 

It is the action of calling into question the integrity or validity of something. 

What constitutes an impeachable offense?

The founders intentionally kept the term “high crimes and misdemeanors” vague, because impeachment is meant to be a political act, not a legal one. Unlike in criminal law, there are no clear rules for evaluating when a president has stepped over the constitutional line.

How is the the Trump investigation different from what happened to former President Bill Clinton (who was impeached while president)?

Three committees in the House — Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs — are conducting investigations, gathering documents and calling witnesses in the inquiry into Trump. In the Clinton impeachment, one committee, the House Judiciary, relied heavily on a report compiled by Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who led the investigation, that listed 11 possible grounds for impeachment in four categories — perjury, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and abuse of power.

Must the house pass a resolution to officially launch an impeachment investigation?

The Constitution imposes no such requirement, and House rules don’t either, even though authorizing resolutions were passed in each of the three previous presidential impeachments.

Could the president pardon himself if he is impeached?

No. The same constitutional provision that gives the president the power “to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States” adds this phrase: “except in cases of impeachment.”

What would happen if the senate convicted Trump? 

He would be immediately removed from office, triggering the 25th Amendment. Vice President Mike Pence would become president

Why are they trying to impeach president Trump?

An impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump began after a whistleblower report alleged that he abused the power of the presidency by secretly pressuring the president of Ukraine to undertake actions which would have the effect of helping his 2020 re-election campaign.

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