by Elly Beauchamp | editor-in-chief
Nov. 15 marked one of the first impeachment hearings regarding the July 25 Ukrainian call. Ever since the democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, declared an impeachment investigation, President Donald Trump has been calling it a “witch hunt.”
But chances are you haven’t even listened to any of the testimony or you aren’t aware that the impeachment process has even begun. So, here’s everything you’ll need to know about impeachment.
Plainly, impeach just means to bring charges against or to be put on trial to prove your innocence or your guilt to the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“The constitution spells out that the president can be removed from office, impeached for high crimes, misdemeanors. It’s the responsibility of the House to impeach and that means- basically it’s like an indictment. So, if you’re charged with a crime you’re investigated to determine if there’s enough information to indict you. A lot of people are confused about the idea that impeachment means removal from office, it doesn’t,” AP government teacher Patricia Castellanos said.
While three presidents, Bill Clinton, Andrew Johnson, and Richard Nixon, have started the impeachment process, none have ever been removed from office.
“He’s still president, so he remains in office and then it remains to be seen how much that impacts his chances of reelection in the next cycle,” Castellanos said, ”Bill Clinton remained in office after he was impeached because he was not convicted by the Senate. It basically means that charges were brought against him, it doesn’t mean he’s actually been removed.”
Even though Trump is the President, that doesn’t mean he is immune from all criminal charges brought up against him.
“Our messaging is: the President admits to [the calls],” Pelosi said during her address to the nation on Sept. 24, ”He doesn’t even see anything wrong with asking a foreign government of aid. The President admits to this. He has taken this to another place of betrayal of his oath of office, our foreign policy, national security and the integrity of our elections, therefore we are moving forward with this inquiry.”
However, these charges are not normal criminal charges, but instead high crimes, a specific type that normally falls under the umbrella of government officials.
“Question is, was something done that was illegal that constitutes an abuse of power, that would probably be considered a high crime and abuse of power of the office. Or, something that was right out illegal, like Bill Clinton. His charge was perjury, which is lying under oath. Among other things, Nixon’s was obstructions of justice, so he tried to obstruct the efforts to investigate the Watergate scandal. Those are illegal crimes,” Castellanos said.
The term whistleblower may be an unfamiliar one to some, but simply put a whistleblower is someone who informs on an individual or organization for illegal acts.
As of right now, the original whistleblowers are not planning to take a stand against President Trump. Since the whistleblowers need to remain anonymous, it’s unlikely they’ll appear to speak at a hearing.
“There’s other people that have been testifying that are corroborating what the whistleblowers has come forward and said and there has to be a certain level of protection of the whistleblower’s identity so they’re not in any sort of danger of being shushed. So, it gives credence to what the whistleblowers have said as being more valid because other people are saying the same thing and conforming that so that makes it less necessary to get the actual whistleblower,” Castellanos said.
If the House finds that the testimonies and gathered evidence are substantial, they will draft Articles of Impeachment: documents which list the officials charges placed against Trump and would lead towards his impeachment.
“So what the house has just done to Trump is they have basically passed a resolution to formalize the investigation, to spell out what the investigation is going to entail, how it’s going to go down. They have not voted on the articles of impeachment-they probably will at some point,” Castellanos said, ”Once the house, if they do that, vote on articles of impeachment, it passes. Then, what happens next is the senate basically holds a trial, as if you were on trial for a crime. The senate holds a trial, the chief justice of the supreme court presides over that trial, they have hearings, they’ll interview people, and then the senate has to vote on whether or not to convict, to remove-is there enough evidence that he should be removed from office. That’s never happened in our history.”
Currently, the investigation into Trump is in the hands of inquiry committees: groups such as the Committee of Oversight and Reform and House Judiciary Committee, that will go over all the evidence provided during the hearings.
“They’re basically getting all the testimony and the corroboration and any evidence that they can provide that there was wrong doing, and they’re getting that documented so that they can draw up an actual document called Articles of Impeachment. They’ll present that to the floor of the house to vote on, and that gets sent over to the Senate. So the investigation is to formalize and figure out what are, where is there enough evidence to bring charges on,” Castellanos said.
According to FiveThirtyEight, a company that tracks public opinion, 47.1 percent of Americans believe Trump should be impeached, compared to 44.7 percent that don’t agree. While this difference doesn’t seem significant, support for the impeachment has gone up nine percent since Sept. 19, when the news about the Ukraine call began to snowball. Since then, the percent of people who don’t support it has gone down almost five percent.
“The President must be held accountable. No one is above the law. Getting back to our founders, in the darkest days of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote that times have found us, those times found them to fight for and establish out democracy. The times have found us today,” Pelosi said during her address, ”Not to place ourselves in the same category of greatness as our founders but to place us in the urgency of protecting and defending our Constitution from all enemies, foriegn and domestic. In the words of Ben Franklin, to keep our republic.”
However, most of the support for the impeachment is coming from the Democratic party, as many Republicans remain steadfast in favor of Trump. And of course the President isn’t staying silent, taking to Twitter with his responses.
““Based on the things I’ve seen, the Democrats have no case, or a weak case, at best. I don’t think there are, or will be, well founded Articles of Impeachment here.”” Robert Wray, respected former prosecutor. It is a phony scam by the Do Nothing Dems,” Trump tweeted.
The impeachment process is steadily moving along, having witnesses like Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and soon it will come to a vote in the House, determining President Trump’s fate of impeachment and perhaps, removal.
“It depends on whether public opinion leans against the president more and more, like as more comes out as more is televised there’s a possibility that people could start to believe that something really did go wrong and if that’s the case the Senators might be pushed by that public opinion, even the Republican ones, to look and see was there really wrongdoing. It’s hard to say what will happen.” Castellanos said.