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Politics are Confusing: The Trump Impeachment Basics

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Tufts chapter.

I will go right ahead and say it: I am not that politically aware or knowledgeable. But, I feel like I should be. The 2020 presidential election is the first presidential election where I will be able to vote. To me, that’s a big deal. I want my vote to be educated. I am not really sure how the whole election process works, or how candidates are chosen. All I know right now is that there are way too many democratic candidates to keep straight. So, I made it my mission this fall to learn more about American politics and educate myself on the policies of candidates and the policies of our current president. Right when I decided I wanted to become more politically savvy, something kinda super important happened–President Trump got impeached. When I first heard this, I honestly did not know what exactly that meant or why it was happening. So, I did some research and figured out the basics.

What does it mean for a president to be impeached?

Basically, an impeachment is Congress charging any high-ranking government official with misconduct and removing them from office. According to the Constitution, the president should be removed due to high crimes such as treason, bribery, or other misdemeanors. The process requires a majority of the House of Representatives to vote for impeachment, followed by a two-thirds vote in the Senate to actually convict the official with a crime and remove them from office. So, a president can be impeached, but not removed from office. The process in the Senate is similar to a judicial trial. The official could be found guilty or could be acquitted. In the history of the United States, only three presidents have been impeached, and of those three, none have been actually removed from office.

How did the process start?

To begin the impeachment process, a formal inquiry is called by the House. This happens when enough people in the House think the president has committed a crime. House lawmakers will gather evidence, information, and witnesses. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, sanctions the official inquiry. The House Judiciary Committee voted at the beginning of September to begin an official inquiry for Trump, but Pelosi did not support this until the end of September when the inquiry officially began.

Why is Trump being impeached?

This is where it gets complicated. There is an investigation into whether Trump should be impeached over his contacts with the Ukraine about former Vice President, Joe Biden. What does that mean? Currently, Joe Biden is the most likely candidate for the Democratic Party in the 2020 presidential election. This makes him President Trump’s political opposition. Apparently, in July, Trump had a phone call with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. President Trump insisted that Zelensky investigate Joe Biden and Biden’s son. According to the whistleblowers, members of the intelligence community who brought this to attention, Trump used “the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the US 2020 election.” It is claimed that Zelensky was willing to investigate the Bidens. Trump accused Joe Biden of pressuring Ukraine to back away in an investigation incriminating Biden’s son, even though there was no evidence of wrongdoing on Biden’s part. The democrats claim that Trump is abusing his power as President to interfere with the 2020 election.

Congress is currently investigating what exactly happened and if Trump did in fact interfere with the 2020 election. It’s a complicated event, with lots of players involved. It will probably drag out for while, so I will be keeping myself updated in the wild west of politics.

International Relations major at Tufts University.