The words "fuck," "Trump," and "impeach" have never been too far from each other since the former Apprentice host first announced his presidential campaign in June 2015. For the purposes of this article, we will focus only on the latter two: Trump and impeach. Specifically, how the fuck do we impeach this guy?
This is the same guy, I might add, who allegedly revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a recent White House meeting. According to the Washington Post, both current and former U.S. officials said that Trump's blabbering could jeopardize a "critical source of intelligence" related to the Islamic State.
Speaking of Russia, Trump fired FBI director James Comey last week. In a subsequent interview with Lester Holt, Trump contradicted Vice President Mike Pence's explanation for Comey's firing. Then, the New York Times reported that an alleged Comey memo showed that Trump had directly asked him to close the federal investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Trump, as we've come to expect in the first slice of 2017, has kept himself busy by tweeting about most of this, providing additional contradictions and raising even more questions:
On Tuesday, Texas Rep. Al Green hit the House floor to call for Trump's impeachment. "This is not something to be taken lightly, and I do not," Green said. "I think that this is one of the highest callings that a member of congress has to address. I believe that this is where your patriotism is shown."
Impeachment of the current POTUS sounds fucking great to me, as I already have champagne ready, but where do we even begin? Let's take a look:
What does a POTUS have to do to get impeached?
According to Trump's least favorite text, the U.S. Constitution, this is what impeachment can look like:
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
In Trump's case specifically, a popular argument for impeachment revolves around the potential charge of obstruction of justice. In short, it's fucking criminal to perform actions that intentionally hinder official investigations. Former federal prosecutor Julie O'Sullivan told the New York Times Tuesday that Trump is currently "building a beautiful case against himself."
Okay, but then what? Who's in charge of this shit?
Impeachment articles against a president require a majority vote of approval in the House of Representatives. The articles themselves are the result of an investigation into a president's actions, which can take months or longer. Currently, both the House of Representatives and the Senate are Republican-controlled.
Is the House vote itself an outright conviction?
Not at all. Think of the process as somewhat similar to a traditional, non-POTUS court. If the House of Representatives approves impeachment articles with a simple majority vote, then the proceedings enter "court," i.e. the Senate. As stated above, the Senate is currently Republican-controlled. A conviction requires two-thirds of the Senate.
Alright, so let's say Trump does get impeached. Who's he joining in the Impeached Presidents chapter of future history books?
Though Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson were impeached in the House, the Guardian's Tom McCarthy notes that acquittal found them both once proceedings hit the Senate. Richard Nixon's would-be impeachment, however, is a bit dicier and feels hyper-relevant this week. Though impeachment articles were passed by a congressional committee, Nixon chose to resign before the full House could conduct a vote.
Are there any other options?
Kinda. The 25th Amendment has been mentioned quite a bit in recent days, inspiring a healthy debate on what exactly the amendment facilitates. As expertly detailed by the Post's Jennifer Rubin, claims of the 25th Amendment being a good thing to use right now are not without complication. "We need not resort to an amendment designed for a wholly different purpose to get rid of a president who is a menace," Rubin wrote. Ross Douthat, writing for the New York Times, disagreed. "The presidency now has kinglike qualities, and we have a child upon the throne," Douthat said.
With respect to 25th Amendment debates, the most prominent Trump-ousting discussion point is most certainly outright impeachment. But how likely is it? Some have argued, as recently as Wednesday, that we are a long way from any formal impeachment processes. After all, impeachment at the presidential level—as stated earlier—is extremely rare. But you know what else is extremely rare? Electing reality TV stars to the highest political office in the United States.