Impeachment Imperfections

The impeachment process must be revised to avoid a dangerous precedent 23 for/2 against

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   In 230 years, only two U.S. presidents have ever been impeached — President Andrew Johnson in 1868 and President Bill Clinton in 1998. President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before the House of Representatives could vote on articles of impeachment passed just one week prior. Now, another name may be added to this list — President Donald Trump.

     Trump has been under investigation for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress since June of this year, when he withheld about $391 million in military aid to Ukraine. The next month, Trump called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and asked for a “favor”: a probe into fellow 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden’s affairs in Ukraine, as well as an investigation of the now-debunked claim that  Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election. An anonymous whistle-blower made these interactions known to the public, accusing Trump of “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry shortly thereafter. The House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment Dec. 13, and the House of Representatives voted on the articles Wednesday.*

     Despite its status as a necessary piece of our nation’s government, the impeachment process is significantly flawed. The Constitution states that a government official who is impeached by the House and convicted in the Senate is to be removed from office and prohibited from holding any office in the future. However, if an official is impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate, this law no longer applies. The Senate then can take a separate vote on whether or not the impeached official is disqualified from future elections. However, if Trump is acquitted by the Senate or removed by the Senate and the disqualification vote fails,  Trump could still run for reelection in 2020. Given that there are currently 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two Independents in the Senate and the current partisan biases, it is unlikely that Trump will be convicted. This loophole needs to be closed in order to ensure that the sitting President is one that hasn’t been convicted of crimes against the state.

     According to NBC News, Trump’s current approval rating is 45 percent. That means his re-election might not be unlikely should the Senate allow him to run in 2020. The impeachment process needs to be more closely examined and resolved to prevent a dangerous political precedent from being set.

*The impeachment vote had not taken place at the time of the print.