By Elizabeth Lesman
Since the moment Donald Trump won 304 electoral votes – and, thus, the 2016 presidential election – there has been talk of impeachment.
Long before that fateful day, news broke of Russian interference in the United States election. It’s still unclear how much interference there was, but the four U.S. intelligence services who were investigating the events leading up to the publicized report agreed that agents under the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin did, in fact, actively work to aid in the election of Donald Trump to the presidency.
That alone was enough to spark the impeachment torches in A LOT of people.
Couple that with the fact that Trump won the electoral vote but actually lost the popular vote, and you can see why barely a day has passed without someone mentioning “impeachment”. Since his inauguration, according to many law experts and legislators, Trump has actually committed a number of impeachable offenses.
What exactly is impeachment?
Impeachment is the method used to remove judicial or executive branch officials from office. According to the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 4, “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.”
Treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Even by legal standards, this is open to interpretation.
In Trump’s case, potential offenses include:
- Obstruction of justice with regard to the firing of FBI Director James Comey in an effort to impede the FBI’s investigation into the scope of Russian interference in the election.
- Seemingly violating the Foreign Emolument’s Clause of the Constitution by accepting money from foreign governments, through his various Trump properties, without the permission of Congress.
- Violating the Domestic Emolument’s Clause by unpermitted acceptance of money in the same way from domestic sources.
- Actively undermining the independent power of the judiciary.
- Repeatedly attacking and challenging freedom of the press.
- Sexual harassment.
To anyone remotely paying attention, these have all been obnoxiously obvious.
So how is he getting away with it?
Basically (without going into too much detail on the finer procedure points), in order to impeach a sitting president of the United States of America, articles of impeachment must be drafted against the president by members of the U.S. House of Representatives, which then begin the impeachment process.
The articles must make their way through the obstacle course of the House Judiciary Committee and be brought before the full body of the House for a vote. If a simple majority of the House votes in favor of impeachment, the U.S. Senate is notified of the charges.
The Senate then essentially holds a trial. After hearing the charges and testimony, followed by private deliberation, the Senate must obtain a two-thirds majority vote in favor of impeachment for a conviction. Once the Senate votes for conviction, the president is automatically removed from office.
On 15 November 2017, six House Democrats introduced five articles of impeachment against President Trump charging him with the above-mentioned offenses.
So what next?
Well, the House Judiciary Committee is currently comprised of 23 Republican members, including the chairman, and 18 Democrats.
The U.S. House of Representatives is currently comprised of 239 Republicans and 193 Democrats (with three vacancies from resignations).
The U.S. Senate is currently comprised of 51 Republicans, 47 Democrats, and 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats.
The only Republicans who have freely spoken out against Trump are those who have announced their impending retirements.
The only Republicans who have voted against the Trump/GOP agenda are those who are holding out for something specific. If they suddenly find their “needs” met, their blatantly fierce objections dissipate like smoke in the wind, and they vote party line.
For the time being, the United States Congress is Republican majority. Republicans have repeatedly shown since the 2016 presidential election that they will put party before constituents and party before country.
Republicans don’t care about ordinary citizens.
Republicans don’t care about majority public opinion.
Republicans don’t care about trying to “fix” the actual problems in this country.
Republicans certainly don’t seem to care that there is a misogynistic, bigoted man-baby sitting in the Oval Office trying to taunt his way into war in order to make himself look and feel strong and feed his appallingly low self-esteem.
As long as President Trump can continue to be coerced and manipulated into giving the GOP exactly what they want, why on earth would they possibly remove him from office?
Never mind his dangerously erratic behavior. Never mind his unmistakable and unshakable presumption that he is above the law. Never mind his near-constant blitzkrieg on the Constitution itself. None of it matters to the GOP.
If, for some inexplicable reason, the majority of Republicans in Congress grew souls and realized the innumerable benefits of impeaching the president, we would then be left inaugurating Mike Pence as the 46th commander-in-chief.
Mike Pence – a man deeply afraid and distrustful of women, who would rather damage a woman’s career than have a dinner meeting alone with her, who won’t attend any gathering without his wife if alcohol is being served, and who would irreparably damage Roe v Wade if given the slightest opportunity.
This is a man who denies separation of church and state, who believes discrimination is just peachy as long as people’s frail religious beliefs aren’t threatened, and who has made anti-LGBTQ policies a foundation of his career. Pence serves Big Business and billionaires just as much if not more than Trump does.
While it’s practically impossible to choose, possibly the worst aspect of a “President Pence” would be the fact that the Koch brothers would essentially own the executive branch. Trump or Pence? Six of one, half dozen of another.
The only way Trump gets impeached this year by a Republican-led Congress is if madness takes over and they suddenly feel great pressure from their base. According to an end-of-year Gallup poll, President Trump has an astonishingly 82% approval rating among Republicans.
Will we see a Donald Trump impeachment in 2018? Say it with me – nope. I wouldn’t get my hopes up. And with Pence waiting in the wings, I’m not sure “hope” is the correct word anyway.