Earlier this week, the U.S. president found himself embroiled in legal and political scandal.
Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and right-hand-man, plead guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations. Cohen also admitted to making hush-money payments to two women claiming to have had affairs with the president, at the direction of Mr Trump.
The payments are said to have been made just weeks before the 2016 U.S. general election, in which Donald Trump unexpectedly triumphed against former secretary of state and first lady Hillary Clinton. The former attorney stated that the payments to the women were made with the “principal purpose” of influencing the result of the election.
The president then sent out numerous tweets, attacking Cohen, the Mueller probe – calling it a “rigged witch hunt”, and Clinton and the Democrats.
Following the allegations, talk of a possible impeachment of the 45th U.S. president has been getting louder.
In past cases, the American Department of Justice has found that a sitting president cannot be indicted in a legal case. Therefore, in order to bring justice to a commander-in-chief, attention turns to impeachment.
Impeachment is the beginning of the process for removing a sitting president from office.
Any member of congress’ lower chamber, the House of Representatives, can introduce a motion to begin impeachment proceedings against a president.
This motion must then be approved by a majority of the ‘House Judiciary Committee’.
If approved, the House of Representatives then votes on whether or not to impeach.
Should a majority of the House vote in favour, the president is then impeached. This does not mean, however, that they are removed from office.
The proceedings then move through to the Senate, who’s members act as a jury. Throughout the trial in the Senate, senators listen to arguments for and against the removal of the president.
If 67% of senators find the president guilty of either ‘treason’, ‘bribery’ or the rather ambiguous ‘high crimes and misdemeanours’, the president is convicted and removed from office.
No president has ever been removed from office. However three presidents have had impeachment proceedings started against them. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both found not guilty in their Senate trials, while Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency before the House of Representatives was given the chance to vote on impeachment.