Barstool Explainer: What Is Impeachment?

President Trump Signs National Manufacturing Day Proclamation

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Russia investigation. Botched Puerto Rico response. Impending war with North Korea. All of these issues have many people asking: what is impeachment and how does it work? This is the question on many people’s minds, and one that Jared Kushner has been frantically googling as he attempts to navigate Ivanka’s internet filters. While it sounds like an app that delivers a box of fruit to your door once a month for just $89, it is actually a political process used to remove officials from office for criminal behavior.

The events that have raised the issue of impeaching Donald Trump have been covered thoroughly by Riggs on many occassions, so I won’t delve into what has been going on with Trump specifically too much. For those of you who skipped your high school civics classes so you could butt chug Four Lokos, but are still curious as to what people are talking about with impeachment, here are the answers to some questions you might have.

I want to learn about impeachment but I don’t have a Wikipedia account, should I really be getting my legal information from a guy named Tummy Sticks?

Good question, yes. I have seen every episode of Law & Order: SVU 2-3 times and I once spent $200 on LSAT prep books.

I’m sold, first question, what can you get impeached for?

The Constitution only states two specific crimes for which an official can be impeached, treason or bribery. It also states that an official can be impeached for other “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which is also a great name for a mixtape. What constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor is very vague, and the House has a lot of leeway in defining what crimes are impeachable. Had Hillary Clinton been elected, she could have been impeached for her role in Benghazi, her e-mail server issues, or for helping to start Lena Dunham’s rap career.

How does the impeachment process work?

Impeachment begins with a resolution in the House that can be brought forward by any member. That resolution requires a simple majority to move the process forward into the Senate. The Senate then holds a trial to determine whether it will acquit or convict the individual being impeached. The trial largely functions like a normal criminal trial only a lot more boring; instead of ADA Alexandra Cabot grilling witnesses it is just a lot of boring questions from geriatric Senators and Al Franken testing out a bunch of new stand-up material. A two-thirds majority is required to convict, and if convicted, the official is removed from office.

Who has actually been impeached?

The first federal official to be impeached was Senator William Blount of Tennessee, who was impeached for “conspiring to assist Britain in capturing Spanish territory.” The Senate chose not to pursue a conviction and instead removed him from the Senate; ironically, a similarly harsh punishment was given to his great-great-great grandson for simply punching some nobody from Boise State in the face. Since then, 18 additional federal officials have been impeached, to include two Presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, neither of whom were convicted in the Senate.

What are some facts I can use to sound smart if someone at work starts talking about impeachment?

  1. Impeachment generally refers to the final vote on the floor of the House on specific articles of impeachment. So, although impeachment proceedings began against Richard Nixon, he was never “impeached” because he resigned prior to the House vote on the articles of impeachment.
  2. There is a sitting member of the House of Representatives who has been previously impeached and convicted. Alcee Hastings, a Democratic representative from Florida’s 20th Congressional District, was impeached while serving as a federal judge on allegations of bribery and perjury. He is also frequently ranked as the poorest member of Congress due to millions of dollars of debt he has accrued due to legal fees.

This was very informative, thank you Tummy Sticks, you’re great! Do you think Donald Trump will actually get impeached?

The impeachment process is more a political one than a criminal one, so it depends largely on the political will of Republican representatives. Depending on how Robert Mueller’s investigation plays out — if there is serious evidence of Trump lying in order to cover up his actions or evidence of illegal collusion with Russian officials — Republicans may have no choice but to vote for impeachment. The vast majority of Republican representatives in 1974 voted to move forward with impeachment hearings against Nixon, so it is not unprecedented that Republicans would vote to at least begin hearings against a president from their own party. However, the political price for this was enormous and the Democrats were able to pick up 49 seats in the House during the 1974 midterms. Republicans are likely to avoid beginning the impeachment process at all costs as it could have devastating effects in the 2018 midterms.

It is far too early to tell how serious talks of impeachment are for Donald Trump. What is certain, however, is that they will provide phenomenal cable news fodder and get Jeffrey Lord out of his basement writing Ronald Reagan fan fiction and back into his rightful place on Skype arguing with Anderson Cooper. However the events pan out, they will provide countless hours of cable news entertainment and thousands of Twitter threads that get quote tweeted by liberals saying “OMG. This!” Donald Trump truly is the reality TV president, and the investigations into his relationship with Russia are sure to provide the most exciting reality TV since Something pooped on Flavor Flav’s floor on Season 2 of Flavor of Love.

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