US President to face impeachment trial in Senate next week. What is impeachment? What is the process?

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According to media reports, the US House of Representatives’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump to Senate on Wednesday. Donald Trump, President of US, will have to go through the impeachment trial in Senate, which is slated to happen next week.

What is Impeachment?

Impeachment literally means ‘an action of  questioning integrity of something’. In political terms impeachment refers to an act of making a public statement that a public officer might be guilty of a serious offence.

“Impeachment is a constitutional remedy addressed to serious offences against the system of government. It is the first step in a remedial process— that of removal from public office and possible disqualification from holding further office. The purpose of impeachment is not personal punishment; rather, its function is primarily to maintain constitutional government,” Govinfo.gov

 

The House of Representatives approved the articles of impeachment of Donald Trump, 45th President of United States of America, on December 18, 2019.

What is Trump accused of?

Trump is accused on two articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of United States Congress (Legislature). He is accused of manipulating the upcoming Presidential elections 2020. It is reported that Trump has coerced Ukraine and other foreign countries to provide damaging narratives of his rival Joe Biden. Joe Biden is primary presidential candidate from Democratic party.

Trump is also accused of manipulating the information relating to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

According to media reports, Russian government interfered in 2016 presidential elections by providing damaging narrative against Hillary Clinton and thus boosting Donald Trump candidacy.

What will happen next?

On the day of the trial, the senate will resolves itself into court. The chief Justice presides over the trial. Upon organisation of the court, the managers appear and the trial of the case proceeds. The trial is followed by vote in open session.

Under the Constitution, a two-thirds vote is required to convict the accused on articles of impeachment.

There are 100 senators, 67 need to vote in favour of articles of impeachment for the President to be removed, if not Trump will stay in office. Currently, there are 53 republicans, 45 democrats and 2 independent senators as reported in Washington Post.

So far, 3 presidents have been impeached in US history: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998, and Donald Trump in 2019. Johnson and Clinton were acquitted and not removed from office.

Impeachment leads to suspension or removal?

If two-thirds senators vote in favour of impeachment, the President stands impeached and he will have to step down as a President of United States. He will be removed from office and will disqualified to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States. Vice President will assume the office, according to the Constitution.


Vocabulary

Articles of impeachment: An impeachment is instituted by a written accusation, called the ‘‘Articles of Impeachment,’’ which states the offence charged; the articles serve the same purpose as an indictment in an ordinary criminal proceeding.

Integrity: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

Accused: A person or group of people who are charged with or on trial for a crime.

Obstruction: An obstacle or blockage

Acquitted: Free (someone) from a criminal charge by a verdict of not guilty.


Question: In India, can Prime Minister be impeached? 

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