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How Impeachment Works

How Impeachment Works

black and white picture of old impeachment trial in court

Currently in the United States, even as Donald Trump continues to push for his electoral agenda, impeachment has always been a looming threat to his presidency. The world is watching to see how this subject unfolds.

Why impeach a leader? To answer this question, let us start by understanding the impeachment process.

Impeachment is the process by which a public office servant is charged with misconduct, tried, and removed from office.

Who is a public servant?
A public servant is merely a government official. They represent the government in the position they hold. They include the president, his deputy and all civil officers who are appointed by the president. Members of Congress are not civil officers.

Who can impeach?
The House of Representatives has the sole power to impeach. However, the Senate has to try these impeachments and decide if the impeachment should be carried out by voting.

Process of Impeachment
Initiation: A member of the House of Representatives initiates the motion. A charge to impeach may be triggered by a nonmember and taken up by the House of Representatives.

Investigation: It is carried out by the judiciary committee. It is done to determine whether the charges against a person are true.

House action: After the committee presents their report on the matter, the House reviews the report and voting are done. It may decide to view the report as a whole or in parts. Although the committee may not recommend impeachment, representatives present may vote to impeach. Managers are selected to present the matter to the Senate.

Notification by House: The House will adopt a means to notify the Senate of its actions. On receiving the notification, the Senate comes up with an order informing the House that it is ready to receive the managers.

The managers are then called to the Senate to showcase evidence for impeaching the individual. After this, the managers are expected to make a verbal report to the House. The matter is handed over to the Senate.

Trial preparation: The Senate issues a writ of summons to the respondent informing them of the date and time they should appear before the Senate. In case the respondent does not show up, it is assumed that the respondent pleads “not guilty.” On completion of pleadings, a trial date is set.

Trial proceeds: here, the Senate is the jury, the Chief Justice is the judge, and the House Judiciary Committee takes the role of the prosecution. The accused chooses their defense lawyer.

Senate judgment: A two-thirds majority of Senate members must vote in opposition to the accused to have them ejected from office.

With this in mind, you can now understand and follow  the impeachment of any public servant.