How to Impeach a President | QT Politics | Donald Trump, The Constitution, and Historical Precedent
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How to Impeach a President | QT Politics | Donald Trump, The Constitution, and Historical Precedent


On Halloween Day, October 31, 2019, the US
House of Representatives passed a resolution to formally launch an impeachment inquiry
into President Donald J Trump, (House Resolution 660). While a number of House investigations into
the president were already well underway, this measure formalized them as part of an
official impeachment inquiry, and lays out a process leading up to a potential impeachment
vote on the floor of the House. In this video, I’ll explain what H.Res.660
sets up procedurally for the Trump impeachment inquiry, break down what the constitution
has to say about impeachment, and talk about what happens if the president is indeed impeached. While impeachment processes do have a degree
of unpredictability, this should hopefully serve to give some sense of an answer to the
question: What happens next? Let’s begin with the constitution. While the constitution is the ultimate authority
when it comes to impeachment, you may be surprised by how little the founding document actually
has to say about the process. There’s essentially just six things the constitution
says about impeachment. Everything the constitution says about Impeachment 1. Impeachment trials are an exception to the
normal rule of trial by Jury. “The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases
of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the
said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial
shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.” (Article 2, Section 3) 2. While the president has the general power
to overrule convictions through Pardons, that’s not the case when it comes to impeachment. “The President…shall have Power to grant
Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in the Cases of
Impeachment” (Article 2, Section 2) 3. A president (and other officials) can be removed
from office when they are impeached for, and convicted of, Treason, Bribery, or high crimes
and misdemeanors. “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.” (Article 2, Section 4) While Treason and Bribery are fairly clear,
‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ is a rather vague phrase. Perhaps the most influential document in interpreting
what exactly qualifies is a 1974 report by the House Judiciary Committee, called ‘Constitutional
Grounds for Presidential Impeachment’. This document cites founding fathers, especially
Madison, in arguing that these do not need to be illegal acts, but a broader scope of
misdeeds that might undermine US interests or the constitution. The report also categorizes all previous American
impeachments as stemming from conduct that falls into one of these three categories: “(1) exceeding the constitutional bounds
of the powers of the office in derogation of the powers of another branch of government;
(2) behaving in a manner grossly incompatible with the proper function and purpose of the
office; and (3) employing the power of the office for an improper purpose or for personal
gain.” 4. Impeachment happens in the House ,“The House of Representatives…shall have
the sole Power of Impeachment.” (Article 1, Section 2) 5. Convictions on impeachment charges happen
in the Senate. “The Senate shall have the sole Power to
try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall
be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is
tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence
of two thirds of the Members present.” (Article 1, Section 3) 6. Finally, the consequences of impeachment convictions
is limited to being removed and barred from office. Other penalties for the same misdeeds go through
the normal judicial process. “Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall
not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any
Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall
nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according
to Law.” (Article 1, Section 3) So, that’s basically it. That’s all the guidance the constitution provides. Historical precedent also provides some guidance,
but impeachment proceedings can proceed in a number of ways within this constitutional
framework. The next steps for the impeachment of Donald
Trump were laid out by House Resolution 660. House Resolution 660 The first thing you should know about H.Res.660
is that it is a resolution, not a bill being passed into law. Instead, it merely affirms a commitment for
the House of Representatives, and lays out a process it intends to follow. The resolution was introduced by [D] Representative
James McGovern on October 29th, 2019, and passed on October 31st with a vote of 232-196. Every House Republican voted against the measure,
with all but two Democrats, Jeff Van Drew and Collin Peterson, voting for it. Former Republican Justin Amash also supported
the resolution. The resolution’s central purpose is to lay
out how the impeachment inquiry will proceed from here, although the text leaves plenty
of things unspecified, and explicitly authorizes the Judiciary Committee to add additional
procedures. But essentially, each of the four sections
of the resolution lay out one step of the process. Step One: Several committees are directed to continue
their ongoing investigations into Donald Trump, as part of what now constitutes a formal inquiry
into whether the House of Representatives should impeach the president. These committees include the the Permanent
Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committees on Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, the
Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, and Ways and Means Step Two: The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
takes control of the process, with its chair, currently democrat Adam Schiff, leading public
hearings. Witnesses may be questioned for up to 90 minutes,
with that time divided evenly between the committee chair, and ranking minority member,
republican Devin Nunes. The ranking minority member can also introduce
witnesses or documentary evidence. The intelligence committee also has the right
to release transcripts of depositions taken in private. Then, in consultation with the chair of the
Committee on Foreign Affairs, Eliot Engel, and the chair of the committee on Oversight
and Reform, now Carolyn Maloney, (who took over from Elijah Cummings, RIP), the chair
of the Intelligence committee will prepare a report for the Judiciary Committee. The report would detail the committees’ findings
and recommendations, and would be publicly available. Step Three: All records pertinent to the impeachment investigations
are transmitted to the Judiciary Committee, which will take over the process. That committee, by the way, is headed up by
democrat, Jerry Nadler, and its ranking minority member is republican Doug Collins. Step Four: The Committee on the Judiciary will conduct
proceedings relating to the impeachment inquiry, and is authorized to add additional procedures
as it deems necessary. The president and his counsel are invited
to participate. The ranking minority member is invited to
bring new witnesses, conduct questioning, and introduce documentary evidence. Finally, the Judiciary will conclude this
process by introducing whatever resolutions, recommendations, or articles of impeachment
it deems proper. So, ultimately, following historical precedent,
the Judiciary Committee will decide whether impeachment charges make it onto the floor. If articles of impeachment make it out of
committee, the House of Representatives, as a whole, will vote on whatever Articles of
Impeachment are recommended by the Judiciary Committee. A simple majority will be all it takes to
impeach the president. What if the President is Impeached? A president getting impeached, of course,
means very little in and of itself. After being impeached, a president then faces
a trial in the Senate, often prosecuted by members, appointed by the House, typically
from the Judiciary Committee. Conviction requires a two-thirds majority
vote by the Senate. If convicted, the president can be removed
from office and/or barred from holding office in the future. With the Republicans controlling the Senate
at the moment, it seems highly unlikely that an impeached Donald Trump would be removed
from office. But, I would caution you to not make too many
assumptions about the impeachment process. Beyond the constitution’s rules, the only
consistent thing about impeachment seems to be that it’s unpredictable. There have been efforts made to impeach every
president since Ronald Reagan, though these efforts typically do not make it out of committee. After three articles of impeachment made it
to the floor of the House of Representatives, Richard Nixon prevented the impeachment process
from proceeding any further along, by resigning the presidency. Only two American presidents have ever been
impeached by the House, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, and neither were removed from office,
as they were acquitted by the Senate. So ironically, while the president who left
office because of an impeachment inquiry was never impeached, the two presidents who were
impeached were never removed from office. Despite the fact that you will often hear
that impeachment is a political process, in the case of Johnson, a number of Republican
Senators broke party lines to join the Democrats in voting not guilty. There were in fact more Republicans voting
against impeachment, than Democrats, 10 and 9, respectively, and had any of those 19 votes
gone the other way, Johnson would have become the first and, so far, only president to be
impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate. Bill Clinton, too, received acquittal votes
from Republicans, though the vote largely followed party lines in his case. Many have argued that impeachment is advantageous
to a president, sighting Bill Clinton’s approval numbers. While his first term average job approval
rating, according to gallup, was 50%, his approval shot up to 69% in early 1998–around
the time he denied have relations with that woman in a sworn deposition—and when he
was impeached in the House at the end of that year, his approval hit an all time high of
77%. At the same time, while accurate approval
polling was not around at the time, Andrew Johnson was not likely to have experienced
a boon to his popularity while he was being impeached. After his impeachment, despite being a sitting
president, Andrew Johnson came in fourth place at the 1868 Democratic National Convention. Of course that was a very different time in
America, and a very different Democratic party. The slogan for the convention was, “This is
a White Man’s Country, Let White Men Rule”. The white man the DNC chose to rule was former
NY Governor, Horatio Seymour, who would go on to be walloped by liberal Republican, Ulysses
S Grant. So, as we’ve seen, while impeachment is supposed
to be and is quite rare, the beginnings of an impeachment process have happened to literally
every president since Reagan. While impeachment is designed to remove a
president from office, an impeached president has never been removed because of it, though
an non-impeached president did resign because of impeachment proceedings. Impeachment proceedings are often described
as a political process, despite the fact that they mimic legal proceedings, and senators
have broke ranks to vote against their own party’s position after an impeachment trial. Impeachment is also said to raise the popularity
of a president, despite the fact that it is intended to be a grave dishonor, and there
is only one example of a president’s popularity spiking from an impeachment process. In a word, impeachment is rare, bizarre, and
unpredictable. The procedures surrounding it are largely
improvised within the vague constraints of the constitution, and guided by scant historical
precedent. The implications of impeachment can be either
straight-forward or counter-intuitive, and the limited historical record regarding it
is contradictory, offering little in the way of guidance for reasonable speculation about
the future. So, I would advise you to regard as either
a fool or a liar, anyone who, speaking about Trump’s impeachment inquiry, tells you they
can give you a clear, specific answer to the question: What happens next?

57 Comments

  • Hani

    This whole process is a scam and a coup. There are less than 12 months left for the next election and yet the Democrats want to impeach a president over a phone call where at least 30 people were listening at the same time.

    This is literally a coup and the media supports it. Why does no one focus on Joe Biden's son and the money he received from Ukraine and China in a business where he has no experience at all while his father Joe Biden was Vice President. It'd a shame and I do agree on one point with Trump, San Francisco is a MESS it's dirty and filled with drugs and crime and yet Nancy Pelosi focuses on this coup and portrays herself as the defender of the constitution..

  • FloorFerret

    To clarify: it actually wasn't to formalize the vote. It was to establish rules for the proceedings once they reach the floor. Nancy Pelosi has said as much.

    Either way it's a fairly small nitpick. The courts have already stated this is an official impeachment regardless of the rules adoption.

  • Dawson

    honestly it really seems pointless to impeach at this point. Let legal proceedings after hes out of office bring justice… if hes reelected then impeach.

  • Everardo Mercado

    Honestly the impeachment will not be decisive for or against trumps chance in 2020 and if anything hurts Biden and those who support him. Plus this is all a technicality that doesn’t matter a lot. As a trump supporter I recognize that Trump did do a quid pro quo but I don’t care. Bill Clinton also got attacked for a small thing and I don’t hate Clinton for it.

  • Hani

    The infrastructure is a MESS. The US has so much wealth yet the streets and bridges are falling apart – homeless people living in tents everywhere and the Politicians are doing this kind of nonsense – it's a SHAME.

  • jacob f

    With impeachment, the democrats reignited Trump's base. All the support he losed over not accomplishing his agenda will comeback as this proceeds

  • Daniel Jones

    What good will impeachment really do? Serious question. It may get rid of Donald Trump but it may well not – and if it does not it could even help galvanize his base for 2020. Even if it does succeed and he is removed from office, he'll just be replaced by someone with similar or the same politics.

    It's so important to look beyond Trump the man and fight his policies – that's how to appeal to his core voters. The obvious conclusion is for the Democratic Party to nominate a politician who will simultaneously introduce left-wing economic proposals such as Medicare for All (supported by a majority of people) and crackdown on illegal immigration – following Trump's lead (and doing the right thing) by attempting to deport as many illegal immigrants as possible, prevent them from coming in the first place, and maybe even tightening up the legal immigration system.

    Combining the immigration policy with fairer redistributive economics would be a winner – and then it won't matter if Trump was impeached or not. Because he would lose in 2020. Can anyone answer me why this would not be the right path to go down?

  • Satoshi Matrix

    I heard on the radio last night a CBC report on how people feel about Impeachment in Mississippi. There was one guy who said, and I'm not even kidding, "It don't matter if the dem devils impeach Trump. We'll just vote him back in!" This guy of course representing most Trump supporters who don't understand that impeachment means Trump would be barred from even running again.

  • ShareThisFastDOTcom

    Trump can't be impeached, he's being used for a covert op to catch corrupt officials advancing an anti-American self serving agenda leaked at the story in my profile. The propaganda has one huge purpose.

  • HEE HEE lord

    I think impeaching him will hand 2020 to republicans because they can paint themselves as the victim and the dems will lose the one thing they can all agree on, impeaching trump. I also think pence could be worse because he can get more done. What do you think?

  • Horizon Falling

    I’m of the opinion that the best possible outcome would result from the following:

    Impeachment following through. Democratic voter confidence in the House, more specifically Pelosi, almost certainly jumps. BUT, she has to drag it out. Why? Constant reporting on the investigation will really drag out the pain for Trump. She may get hate for not acting quickly but that’s necessary for the second part.

    For step two, something scary needs to happen: we need to rely on Mitch McConnell to block it. Ironic, right? Here’s my reasoning.
    1: If MMC blocks the conviction vote, there will be an uproar. At this point he’s obstructing justice on behalf of the President. Hopefully, only the most radical Republicans will accept that.
    2: If he doesn’t block it there’s a high chance that conviction fails. Republicans, conveniently forgetting ‘partisanship’ exists, will say that it completely exonerates Trump, and the Democratic party is just trying to destroy him. That claim will become right-wing propaganda for election season. Not good.

    If all of this continues deep into 2020, his re-election chances will probably be quite grim.

    Thoughts?

  • Jack

    I'm all for an impeachment inquiry, but I worry it could result in a Trump win. The Senate cannot impeach without concrete evidence, and the Dems can't be distracted by this, or the voters may turn against them.
    Anyways, good video as always!

  • Allen Z

    Well, I guess that I'm a fool since I believe that the impeachment proceedings (barring removal) will help rather than hurt Trump. Trump did really well in 2016 thanks, in part, to his (mostly negative) constant media coverage. Calls for impeachment since before his inauguration reinforce the "anti-establishment" persona that Trump has consistently striven for. Biden, on the other hand, has been really hurting since this impeachment effort focuses on Trump's handling of investigating Biden's son. Even during the heat of the Democratic primary run-up, I believe that Trump is getting more airtime than the rest of the candidates together (or at least more than any individual candidate); this last belief is just a hunch as I haven't seen any numbers to back it up.

  • C.J.V.G 24

    Hey Q what’re your thoughts on the LJ dinner. Do you think that it’s gonna be a two person race between Pete and Warren?

  • Jamie Tombari

    Would you consider doing a video that covers ranked-choice voting for the Democratic Primary? I would love to hear your insight on if it could impact the primary (and if it's a good idea)!

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