I’ve heard people throwing the term “impeachment” around a lot lately in reference to Trump’s presidency. I understand why many think that’s some sort of safeguard against presidential abuses because that was the Founders’ intent, but the fact is it isn’t. That’s especially the case now.
The power of impeachment was given to the legislature by our Founders as a means of removing presidents, vice presidents, or other federal officials guilty of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” (U.S. Constitution. Art. II, Sec. 4). There are also procedures for impeachment of state level officials, but we don’t need to get into that here. The important thing to understand is it’s up to the House of Representatives to start the proceedings in committee, vote to impeach (indict) the accused, and then it’s up to the Senate to convict. Got it? Good.
The House has only voted to impeach presidents twice in our nation’s history. The Senate has NEVER voted to remove a president.
Andrew Johnson ran as part of the National Union party for his presidency. He was also in the Democratic party at different other times in his career. The House attempted impeachment twice. The second time it passed the House but failed the Senate. Republican majorities both times.
‘Bill’ Clinton was impeached by the House in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice. The Senate chose not to convict so he wasn’t removed. As most of us know, Clinton was a Democrat. The majorities in Congress at the time? Republican.
Many believe Nixon was also impeached. While he was threatened with it (as many others have been), Nixon chose to resign before the question of impeachment was decided by the House. Maybe he would have been, maybe not. It’s thought that had he not resigned Congress would have impeached him so I’ll go ahead and mention that he was a Republican. The majorities in Congress at that time? Democrat.
I hope you’re seeing a trend here because there is one. The instances where our Congress has come the closest to removing a president has been when the Congressional majorities were of a different party than the president. Partisan politics pervade our government with nearly everything. On something that can so drastically affect their next elections you can bet parties will vote in their own best interests and that means not impeaching a president from their own party.
Remember during the Republican primaries when numerous Republicans spoke out against Trump? Remember when he got the nomination and all of a sudden most of those Republicans fell into line and supported him? It’s incredibly unlikely enough will turn against him to successfully impeach. That would be political suicide.
Of course I could be wrong, but I think the chance of impeachment with a Republican majority is microscopic. About the only chance would be if Democrats got the majority in the next cycle and even then I’d be surprised. We have never impeached a president even when people widely thought there was reason to do so. A lot would have to change for it to happen.