News: US President Donald Trump has been in the news again, but this time a number of people are asking for him to be impeached, or removed from office. This is because it is suspected that he asked officials in Ukraine for some information he could use against his opponents in next year’s US Presidential race, in exchange for millions of dollars worth of military aid to Ukraine. If this is true, it is illegal and could be grounds for his removal from office.
What is impeachment? Impeachment is a process by which the government can remove a high-ranking official from political or public office. This can be started in very specific cases where the leader is suspected of committing a grave crime against the government, or when the people or the country or have acted in a way that is not in the best interest of the country.
Many countries have provisions for impeachment in their laws. These include Brazil, France, India, Ireland, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. Even the President or the Prime Minister of a country can be impeached.
OK! Why are we talking about impeachment today? In 2020 the US will hold a presidential election and President Trump will contest for a second term. An anonymous whistleblower sent in a phone transcript from July 2019 that reveals President Trump repeatedly asked President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s top leader to dig up information on his political opponent Joe Biden. He would use this information to defame Joe Biden just before the election.
This matters because it is illegal to ask foreign parties to interfere and help in winning a US election. Apparently, this call was made shortly after Mr. Trump had personally blocked millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine. They suspect he used this aid as a haggling tool but President Trump and his allies deny this.
What happens next? The investigation into Mr. Trump’s action is being led by the Intelligence Committee assisted by other divisions of the US Government. At the end of the investigation, one of the committees will draft the Articles of Impeachment and present them to the House of Representatives (the House), which is the lower level of the US Parliament.
If the Articles are passed by a simple majority in the House, the vote will go to the Senate, which is the higher level of the US Parliament. The Senate will then hold a trial on the Articles of Impeachment and only if a two-thirds (2/3) majority of the members of the Senate vote in favour of impeachment, can President Trump be removed from office.
If at any stage in the process, the House or the Senate is not able to secure the required number of votes to go to the next stage, the process will end and things will remain as they are now. As it stands, this is unlikely given that Mr Trump’s party controls the chamber. Unlikely, but not impossible as members of his own Republican party will have to turn against him.
Stay tuned to know how the impeachment process progresses and if a sitting US President will be removed from office by impeachment for the first time in history!
Written by: Disha Mirchandani.