‘An extraordinary climb:’ What you need to know about presidential impeachment

Posted: Updated:

Congress took a giant leap Tuesday by starting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s alleged abuse of power by pressuring Ukraine’s newly elected president to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

But what does presidential impeachment mean, how does the process work, and what consequences can the president face?

Professor James Sample, of Hofstra’s School of Law, told News 12 that the process could be as “short as a couple months” or “as long as into a second Trump presidency.”

MORE: Washington plunges into Trump impeachment investigation 

Sample says the inquiry is with six committees in the House. Under the Constitution, a president can be impeached for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

“The committee members can investigate in all the ways that you can, short of subpoenas at this point,” says Sample. “They can interview witnesses that will appear before them voluntarily, they can request documents.”

From the six committees, articles of impeachment would have to be drawn up – likely by the House Judiciary Committee. It would then move to the full House of Representatives for a vote on the floor.

If a simple majority says yes, it then goes to the Republican-controlled Senate for a trial. From there, 67 senators need to vote yes in order for the president to be officially removed.

Sample called removing by the impeachment process President Trump “an extraordinary climb.” He also said this is a “momentous and historic occasion.”

No president has ever been removed from office after being impeached. Experts say that is unlikely President Trump would be removed in the Republican-controlled Senate.

 

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