What is impeachment and can the US president be removed from office?

What is impeachment and can Donald Trump be removed from office?

Impeachment is a mechanism by which Congress can remove a sitting president.

Before Donald Trump, only two US presidents had been impeached.

Mr Trump was impeached in 2020 over claims he abused his power by holding back aid to Ukraine in the hope that its leader would investigate Joe Biden, his political rival. He was impeached by the House of Representatives but acquitted by the Senate.

Now, Mr Trump faces becoming the first president in history to be impeached twice. Democrats are demanding that the president is removed from office after he incited a violent mob to at-tack the US Capitol on January 6.

Democratic congressmen plan to table a single article of impeachment on January 11, accusing the president of “incitement of insurrection”. 

Mr Trump could face a trial in the Senate starting an hour after he leaves office. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, sent a memo to colleagues setting out the timings for a trial if Mr Trump is impeached.

Here is how impeachment works.

What is impeachment?

Impeachment is the process by which Congress puts certain officials, namely the president, on trial.  

The US constitution lays out a broad scope of offences that can lead to impeachment: “Treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” 

How does it work and how many votes are needed?

Impeachment does not mean a president will necessarily be kicked out of office. It proceeds like a bill passing through legislature.

First, a majority in the House of Representatives – 218 out of 435 members – must approve articles of impeachment previously approved in committee.

The Democrats hold a majority in the House of Representatives; 233 to 195 (five seats are vacant and one is independent).

When Mr Trump was impeached in 2020, the articles of impeachment easily passed in the House.

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