Do you know exactly what impeachment is? This article answers all the basic questions about impeachment. Read on to get knowledgeable about what is coming for Donald Trump.

What is impeachment?

Used generally, impeachment is the act of calling into question the integrity of someone. Certainly this is the case for Donald Trump. There are many voices in the media, on Twitter, on Facebook and so on that daily call into question his integrity.

More formally, impeachment is the act of a government laying charges of misconduct against a high-level official in the governnment. Impeachment itself doesn’t necessary lead to removal from office. Being impeached is the statement of formal charges and is only the first step to removal. Once impeached, the official must face the charges, but may not be removed from office unless convicted of those charges.

Impeachment itself doesn't necessary lead to removal from office.

Who has the power to impeach the President?

The power of impeachment is given to the House of Representatives by the US Constitution and can be used against the President, Vice President, and all civil Officiers of the United States. Impeachment proceedings can be started by any member of the House. The House debates the impeachment charges and the impeachment process begins with a simple majority vote in the House.

Impeachment, however, is a two-stage process. The first stage is the laying of the charges by the House. The second stage is a trial of the official before the Senate. Witness are called and are cross-examined. The Senate then votes on whether or not to convict. A two-thirds majority is required for a conviction.

Upon conviction, the official is automatically removed from office. The offical may also be blocked from holding any future governmental office.

What offenses are impeachable?

The President (and others) can be impeached for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Examples of high crimes and misdemeanors include:

  • Perjury of oath
  • Abuse of authority
  • Bribery
  • Intimidation
  • Misuse of assets
  • Failure to supervise
  • Dereliction of duty
  • Conduct unbecoming
  • Refusal to obey a lawful order

As you can see from the list, not all impeachable offense are crimes.

Officials are typically impeached for misdeeds while they are in office. However, it is possible to impeach for crimes prior to their time in office.

Which Presidents have been impeached?

Impeachment proceedings have been initiated against several US presidents, but only two have been successfully impeached: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. These presidents moved to the trial-by-Senate stage. Andrew Johnson was impeached for breaking the Tenure of Office Act by replacing the Secretary of War improperly. Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice surrounding his testimony about his affair with Monica Lewinsky during the sexual harrassment trial filed against him by Paula Jones.

Neither Johnson nor Clinton were convicted by the Senate.

Impeachment proceedings were begun against Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal. However, Nixon resigned before he could be impeached by the House.

Who becomes President after impeachment?

If the President is convicted by the Senate and is removed from office, the Vice President becomes President.