COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – The big headline of the day nationally is the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump. Tuesday, a formal inquiry was announced and Wednesday the president released a transcript of one of the claims being made against him.
But what does impeachment mean and how does the process work?
It starts with a formal impeachment inquiry, an announcement Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made Tuesday morning.
“It’s sort of an analogous to an investigation assuming there’s enough evidence to move forward. Then the House Judiciary Committee will draw up articles of impeachment which is similar to an indictment,” explained Kirk Randazzo, the political science chair at the University of South Carolina.
Those articles are then presented to the full House for a vote. If at least one is passed, it moves to the Senate.
Former White House correspondent during the Clinton impeachment, Charles Bierbauer, broke down what takes place in the Senate.
“It’s impeachment and then you have what is actually called a trial in the Senate where the Senate either acquits of finds the president guilty,” Bierbauer said.
The House has at least two routes it can take to try and use to impeach President Trump.
Professor Randazzo continued, “If it’s nothing more than Congress is investigating, that is more so of a partisan issue. On the other hand, if the articles of impeachment talk about soliciting a foreign nation to work against the United States…”
Both avenues can leave a stain on the political sphere.
“Here you have a president who is running for reelection. Even if acquitted, you can hardly imagine the election going forward without his impeachment being an issue,” Bierbauer added.
Only two presidents have been impeached; President Andrew Johnson and President Bill Clinton. Both were acquitted by the Senate.
If President Trump is impeached, it does not mean he will be removed from office. The Senate would have to come back with a conviction for that to happen. Additionally, the House can withdraw its inquiry.