Explained: Trump impeachment inquiry
US president Donald Trump is in the news again. This time for his impeachment inquiry.
No one is above law
On September 24, this year, Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, launched a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. An “impeachment inquiry” is an investigation to find out whether there is enough evidence to “impeach” the president. Or remove him from office. If the inquiry finds out that he’s guilty, he would be removed from the office of the president.
What’s the cause of inquiry
America is going for presidential elections in 2020, and Trump would be contesting for a second term. Someone secretly sent a phone transcript which reveals that Trump had asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to find out bad things about Joe Biden. Biden is Trump’s political rival and would contest against him in 2020.
Biden is the former vice-president of the United States. Trump, apparently, asked for this information in exchange for millions of dollars worth of military aid to Ukraine.
It is illegal to ask foreign parties to interfere and help in winning a US election. Trump, however, denies doing any such thing.
How does inquiry work
The process begins with an investigation, or an impeachment inquiry. During this time, House lawmakers collect evidence, summon witnesses, and carefully review all the information regarding the alleged crime(s).
Following the investigation, the House decides whether or not to recommend articles of impeachment, an official accusation of the crime(s) committed. The recommendation is then sent for approval to the Houses Judiciary Committee. If a majority of its 41 members agree on the validity of the claims, the issue goes back to the House for a general vote. If the Senate agrees, the president would be impeached.
Have any past US presidents faced impeachment?
President Trump is the fourth US President who has faced an impeachment inquiry. Andrew Johnson, who served from 1865 to 1869, was charged with 11 articles of impeachment in 1868. Johnson was acquitted after the Senate votes fell one short of the two-thirds needed to convict.
President Richard Nixon’s was accused of irregularities in what became known as the “Watergate” scandal. Following an investigation by the House in 1974, the Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment. However, before things went any further, Nixon resigned from office.
Meanwhile, Bill Clinton, who served as the 42nd US president from 1993 to 2001, faced two articles of impeachment — obstruction of justice and perjury — in 1998. On February 12, 1999, Clinton was acquitted of both charges after the Senate failed to garner the required two-thirds votes.