Speculation that the president of the United States , Donald Trump , could be subject to impeachment proceedings resurfaced.
The hypothesis resurfaced on accusations that, amid the election campaign , he would have bought the silence of women with whom he allegedly had extramarital affairs.
The complaint was made by Michael Cohen, a former Trump lawyer, who pleaded guilty to a New York court for violating the election law in the last US election. He said that, on the orders of the then Republican candidate, he made payments to two women so they would not go public to say that they had sex with him.
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In addition, Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign coordinator, was found guilty of tax and banking fraud by a Virginia court in the course of investigations into Russia’s alleged influence in the 2016 US elections. However, before he was hired by the then Republican candidate.
According to experts, the only way for Trump to be removed from office is through the opening of an impeachment process.
What is impeachment
In this context, impeachment means taking the charges against Trump to Congress, which would conduct a trial.
The US Constitution says a president may be removed from office for “treason, bribery or other serious crimes and misdemeanors.”
The impeachment process begins in the House of Representatives – and needs a simple majority of deputies’ votes to be opened.
The trial is held in the Senate. To remove the president from office, at least two-thirds of the senators must vote for the conviction. And that milestone has never been reached in US history.
Who has ever suffered impeachment?
To date, only two presidents have been impeached. And none of the cases ended in conviction.
In the latest, Bill Clinton – the 42nd US president – has been charged with perjury and obstruction of justice crimes after lying about the nature of his case with former White House trainee Monica Lewinsky.
It is noteworthy that in December 1998, when the lawsuit was filed, Clinton’s approval rating was 72%.
But when it came to the Senate in 1999, the process failed to get the two-thirds needed to pass. And Clinton was acquitted of both charges. As an analysis published by the BBC noted at the time, “in the eagerness to overthrow the president, they never stopped to wonder if the charges could be proven, without a doubt.”
And who was the second president to be impeached? One tip: it was not Richard Nixon.
In fact, it was Andrew Johnson, the 17th American president, who took office in 1865 and was in office for four years.
The House of Representatives approved the suit against him in 1868. The vote came only 11 days after he had removed Edwin Stanton, then secretary of war, who disagreed with his policies.
The parallels between the dismissal of Stanton and FBI director James Comey – who also disagreed with Trump – did not go unnoticed by the American press.
Unlike Clinton, however, Johnson’s impeachment vote was tight: he was acquitted by only one vote of difference.
Can Trump be the target of impeachment anyway?
In theory, yes. He could technically be charged with violations of his oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend” the US Constitution, according to the Lawfare Blog, which specializes in national security issues, published by the Lawfare Institute in partnership with the Brookings Institution.
In practice, however, it is much more unlikely.
“If this were a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, the articles of the impeachment process would probably already be drafted,” says Anthony Zurcher, a BBC reporter.
The vast majority of Republican lawmakers remain loyal to Trump and their approval ratings are surprisingly stable, according to a Pew Research Center survey this month.
Of course, there are notable exceptions, like Senator John McCain, who compared Trump’s allegations to the Watergate scandal that led to the overthrow of President Richard Nixon in 1974.
While some Republican politicians should minimize each hurdle, others wonder if Trump could hurt his performance in the November legislative elections.
But, after all, how did Nixon avoid impeachment?
Nixon did what every sensible person does when he knows the tide is not good for his side. He resigned his term.