And then there were three: Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton…and Donald Trump? That remains to be seen, but for only the fourth time in history (Nixon resigned before he could be removed), the House of Representatives is diving headlong into the impeachment process – and this is just the beginning.
Speaking at the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said no one is above the law and noted that the President “must be held accountable.” As we’ve been telling you, Pelosi has been slow to get to this point, but that changed because of the growing controversy over President Trump and Ukraine. Pelosi accuses Trump of pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who had some business dealings in the country.
Pelosi accused Trump of undermining national security and of committing a breach of his constitutional responsibility.
As we reported yesterday, Trump's recent call with the Ukrainian leader prompted a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community's inspector general.
The House Intelligence Committee wants to see the inspector general's report – and yesterday, the Senate voted unanimously for the same – but the White House has been blocking the demand.
Speaking at the UN, Trump has insisted that he did not pressure the Ukrainian president and he accused Democrats of engaging in another "witch hunt." But after Pelosi’s press conference? Trump took to Twitter, saying it was an important day at the United Nations, and Democrats "purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt Garbage." Trump added this is "So bad for our Country."
Elsewhere, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the inquiry is an attempt to overturn the 2016 election. In a statement, the Kentucky senator said Democrats have been searching for ways to reverse the election since before Trump's inauguration. He called their efforts a "two-and-a-half year impeachment parade in search of a rationale." He also blamed Pelosi for bowing to the far-left wing of her party.
Hillary Clinton is also checking in – and says she's in favor of moving toward impeachment, calling the President a "corrupt human tornado." In an interview with “People,” the former first lady, secretary of state and presidential candidate said she didn't come to that decision easily, “but we're in a crisis.” Clinton called Trump a "clear and present danger to the future of the United States."
The Impeachment Process
So Pelosi is starting the process…what does that mean exactly? Certainly not the slam-dunk that the President’s detractors are hoping While impeachment inquiries usually begin with a vote in the full House, Pelosi has instructed the six House committees already investigating Trump to proceed "under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry."
Then comes the investigation – which can be a long and protracted process. Once that’s all clear? A vote on whether the inquiry will be referred to the full House of Representatives. If the House votes to impeach, Trump would face the choice of fighting for his office in the Senate or resign. Both President Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Clinton in 1999 fought in the House and ultimately survived a Senate trial. Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.
Whether this process would even get to trial in the Senate is in question – as Mitch McConnell could simply decide not to have a trial. If there is a trial, the Republican majority could simply vote to dismiss the charges.
Whereas the House requires a simple majority vote – something they clearly have with the Democrats – it takes a supermajority to remove a President from office. That means 67 senators would have to agree that Trump should be impeached – and 20 Republicans would have to turn on him along the way.
For Johnson, the entire process lasted 94 days, for Nixon…184 days (and he cut bait as soon as the House voted to impeach him) Clinton’s impeachment lasted 127 days.
Source: NBC News