Impeachment: What you need to know

Impeachment: What you need to know

For months, the news and media have been swamped with breaking stories about President Donald Trump’s impeachment. Most of stories and coverage are filled with big words and political terminology that can be hard to understand. 

The topic of Trump’s impeachment has been on blast since September, when the process first came into the picture. While reports show students probably do not care about impeachment, politics is a huge part of our society and affects our future as well. 

With the word “impeachment” being used so much recently, the definition has been misconstrued, leaving a lot of people confused about the actual meaning of the word. 

“In essence, impeachment is a formal accusation of wrongdoing, or a formal charge – it doesn’t mean that they (any federal official) would be removed from office,” U.S. government teacher Patrick Bengert said. “Say a prosecutor charges a person with a crime, then you have to have a trial. The House of Representatives is charging the president with some sort of wrongdoing. These charges are called the articles of impeachment, and they go to the senate, and the senate has the trial. The supreme court chief justice presides over it. He is the judge.”

Impeachment is not just for the president either. Any federal official can be impeached, including  judges and legislators. The reason why someone would be impeached, though, isn’t so specific. 

“The constitution is very vague,” Bengert said. “It says you can be removed from office for treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. It does not specifically say you have to commit a felony. The interpretation is that, when the constitution was written, the founding fathers wanted to let future congressman decide what exactly defines a high crime or misdemeanor.”

President Trump has two articles against him: obstruction of congress and abuse of power. The House of Representatives decided to impeach Trump based on these two articles, for refusing to cooperate with inquiries from the congress and allegedly asking Ukraine to dig up information about 2020 Democrat frontrunner, Joe Biden. With additional information from a whistleblower in August of last year, this was enough levy impeachment on the President. 

Since our nation began, only two presidents have been impeached: the first time in 1868 for Andrew Johnson and again in 1998 for Bill Clinton. Because this is happening for only the third time in American history, it is a pretty big deal to a lot of people. 

“It is a big deal!” Bengert said. “They are saying that our highest leader has committed some sort of act that is detrimental to the population. We have to hold them accountable.”

A controversial step to this impeachment process is the time between the House vote and the Senate trial. Because House speaker Nancy Pelosi did not hand the articles over to the Senate immediately, she received a stir from the public. 

“Holding on to the articles was a really interesting move by Nancy Pelosi because typically, in the past two impeachments, as soon as the house voted they would immediately send those articles over to the senate,” Bengert said. “While the hearings were going on in the House, the Republican party leader, Mitch McConnell, said that he discussed with the president and they’re in lockstep with one another with how this trial is going to go. Nancy Pelosi insisted on wanting to have witnesses, so she didn’t send the articles over right away; she held on to them.”

In efforts to make the trial as fair as possible, Pelosi held onto the documents to stir up a public response and encourage McConell to have a fair trial, and it worked. Some Republicans have come forward and encouraged having witnesses present to keep in line with the constitution. 

“I think that Nancy Pelosi wanted to make sure the President knows we’re checking his power,” Bengert said. “Let him know that he can’t do whatever he wants. At first, Nancy wanted nothing to do with impeachment. It was other members of her own party that were pushing her towards it.” 

On Wednesday, January 15, the articles of impeachment were sent to the Senate and the trial is being held soon. With Trump’s removal of office being the big question, many people are predicting the same outcome.

“It is very rare and very difficult for a member of someone’s own party to actually vote for impeachment,” Bengert said. “The Senate has a Reubuplican majority, and the President is Republican, so he’s not likely to get removed from office.”  

Many students have differing opinions about the impeachment process and Trump in general. 

“I don’t support his impeachment,” sophomore Amber Feldpausch said. “I don’t think the Senate is going to remove him from office. There’s a bunch of Republicans in there. I didn’t think he was going to be impeached, he’s a good president. He’s done a lot in four years.”

On the other hand, some think that Trump’s impeachment was the right move.

“I think it was a good decision on behalf of the democrats,” sophomore Ava Bartley said. “I think he absolutely committed both, but I don’t think the Senate will kick him out of office. They’re all Republican.”

Regardless of one’s political views and beliefs, it is important to participate in politics. Every single election, no matter the size, determines the future.