The Impeachment and Acquittal of Donald Trump


(Photo: Kevin C. Cox/ Getty Images)

Natalie Kees

It’s a news story that every informed American has no doubt heard by now. The sitting U.S. President, President Donald J. Trump, has been impeached by the House of Representatives, and the following Senate impeachment trial has finally come to an end. While Americans everywhere try to keep themselves in the know, the confusing disarray that is current U.S. politics has everyone puzzled, and many are unaware of what an impeachment of a U.S. president means or why the president has been impeached in the first place. But even though President Trump wasn’t removed from office, the impeachment trials that have taken place during his presidency have made U.S. history.

In the history of the American nation, only three presidents have ever been formally impeached by the House of Representatives, Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, and now, sitting President Donald Trump. However, no U.S. president has ever been removed from office. When writing the U.S. Constitution, the Founding Fathers intentionally made it difficult for Congress to remove a president from office. Many other presidents have been threatened with the action of impeachment by political opponents, but there was really no danger in regards to convincing Congress to take action against then-presidents. And although Congress has impeached and removed several federal judges, no president (although Andrew Johnson came awfully close) has ever been found guilty in the Senate impeachment trial, which is the final step required to remove a president.

Presidents can be impeached for an act of treason, bribery, or other high crimes. The impeachment process starts in the House of Representatives when they present a formal impeachment inquiry. If the House Judiciary Committee finds the inquiry adequate for political action against the President, its members write and pass articles of impeachment against the president. These articles then go to the full House for a vote; a majority vote is all that’s needed to formally impeach a president. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re out of a job, as removal from office is decided in a Senate impeachment trial. At least two-thirds of the Senate must find the president guilty of the crimes that are disclosed in the articles of impeachment for the president to be removed from office.

The impeachment process against President Trump started in early September when a letter of complaint came from an unknown ‘whistleblower’ who expressed concerns over the president’s phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. A rough transcript of the call later revealed to the public that the purpose of this phone call was to pressure the president of Ukraine to dig up information on one of his political rivals in the race for the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter. Democrats fighting for the impeachment of President Trump, claim that he was using the presidential office for personal political gain, which they claim is an abuse of presidential power. President Trump is also accused of obstructing Congress by refusing to cooperate with the congressional inquiry.

If the Senate had found President Trump guilty of the crimes listed in the impeachment articles, he could have been the first-ever U.S. president to be removed from office. The issue of his possible removal from has caused a great political divide within the United States. While many believe that President Trump is indeed guilty of the crimes presented in the articles of impeachment, many also believe that he is being falsely accused of what is written.

For those that had tried to impeach President Trump, their greatest obstacle lied in the way of removing him from office, the trial in the Senate. While President Trump did get impeached by the House of Representatives, there’s a big distinction between the House of Representatives and the Senate in their support of Donald Trump. While the House of Representatives is dominated by members of the Democratic Party, the Senate is composed of mostly Republican politicians. This is important because the President is the leader of the Republican Party, and Republicans want to prove President Trump innocent, so that the Republican party can remain in control of the Executive branch. On the other side, Democrats are trying to remove the president from office, not necessarily to seize control of the Executive branch, but to “stand up for what’s right and save our constitution in the process,” according to Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY).

President Trump’s opinion on the articles and trials for his impeachment match those of the rest of the Republican Party. He insists he did nothing wrong, and that this whole impeachment process is “fake news” and a “witch hunt.” He has denied using U.S. military aid as a bargaining chip with President Zelensky, and has repeatedly insisted his call with Ukraine’s president was “perfect.” He has also written a letter to Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is credited with starting the impeachment process against President Trump. In his letter, President Trump wrote that Pelosi was declaring an “open war on American democracy.”

On February 5, the results of the Senate impeachment trial were announced: President Trump had been acquitted of his impeachment charges, meaning that the majority of the Senate had found him innocent, and that he will not be removed from office. Nationwide, people are expressing their reactions. President Trump and the rest of the Republican Party are triumphant in their victory. For the Democrats however, this is a resounding defeat. Although Democrats most likely knew that the President would be acquitted in the Senate, with the Republican majority as the deciding factor in the vote, they still pushed on with impeachment anyways.

Trump’s allies were happy to see the threat of impeachment and removal against the president come to an end, but they warned that Democrats have set a precedent that may possibly come to affect a Democratic president in the future. “Ladies and gentlemen, you will come to regret this whole process,” warned Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Many Democrats fear that Lindsay Graham is correct, and that if a Democratic president is elected in the 2020 presidential election, the Republican party will search for an offense within the president’s record to push for impeachment. Donald Trump’s impeachment has changed the way many Americans think about impeachment, and now everyone can only wait and see what the next presidential election brings.