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Butler instructor breaks down impeachment process

Maya Hall


In current news, the topic of former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment is prominently being covered. The impeachment process still continues while he is no longer in office. One must understand the impeachment process as a whole in order to understand how this affects Trump and the United States.

According to Google, impeachment is defined as, “the process by which a legislative body both makes and decides upon legal charges against a governmental official”. Orion Yoesle, an assistant professor of political science, puts the process into his own words. 

“Impeachment is designed to be a means of removing a president who members of Congress believe has behaved in a way that undermines our institutions and/or our society,” Yoesle said. “The Founders believed it necessary as an option to remove a president if an election is not an option, or if the alleged offense is deemed serious enough to warrant immediate impeachment and removal.”  

There have been presidents who have been impeached in the past, though none have been removed from office because of it. This list includes Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, who is also the only president to have been impeached twice.  

When teaching, Yoesle said that he discusses impeachment in his American Federal Government classes when they go over the section of presidency. He discusses the rarity of impeachments and the process taken to impeach a president. 

“I impress upon my students two things where it concerns impeachment,” Yoesle said. “The first is that impeachment is a political process entirely. There is a big misconception that presidents (a) are impeached only for illegal behavior, and (b) in a related sense, a crime must be committed. Neither are true… Impeachment proceedings and criminal proceedings are entirely separate processes, in short.” 

As stated before, three presidents have been impeached, but none have been removed from office because of it. This is because a president can be impeached by the House of Representatives, but then acquitted by the Senate, which allows them to stay in office. 

“A second misconception is that impeachment is the process that removes the president,” Yoesle said. “However, impeachment is only the first of two steps to remove the president. It is conducted exclusively by the House of Representatives. The actual “trial”, and body that votes on whether to remove the president from office, takes place in the Senate…in order to impeach a president, you need a simple majority of House members to vote to impeach (half the house +1, or 218 members out of a 435 member body). To acquit, however, 2/3 of the present members of the Senate must agree to that course of action. No president, upon being impeached, has ever been convicted.” 

On Saturday, Feb. 13, former President Trump was acquitted by the U.S. Senate with a vote of 57, voting in favor of impeachment, -43, voting against impeachment. Although a majority of the Senate voted in favor of impeachment, Democrats needed at least 17 Republican votes for Trump to be impeached.

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