The Role of Impeachment

This fascinating article form Politico looks at whether Donald Trump could be impeached if he were to become US President. It is useful to students when looking at the role of impeachment as a method to oversee the President’s power from Congress – either in assessing whether impeachment is a useful threat or in evaluating more broadly about Congress’ power to oversee the President.

Impeachment is often written about by students but usually put in the ‘Congress is not very good’ column – this refers to impeachment never having removed a sitting President, with Nixon resigning before he could be impeached and to how slow this process is. In the case of Bill Clinton, students could also argue that the process became more party political rather than for ‘proper’ reasons.

However, there is a more positive light to view impeachment. Firstly, it has been used, twice, and successfully. The most common annoyance in an essay is to see that impeachment of Clinton ‘failed’. In an emotional sense, this depends on your point of view but in an political sense, it worked perfectly – the HoR started the process, the Senate heard the impeachment trial, the Senate voted, they found him not guilty. Equally, despite the party political nature, it has been used to express displeasure, or even to try and embarrass the President. George W. Bush was subjected to the beginnings of impeachment process with the Kucinich-Wexler articles in 2008. While the trial was unlikely to ever get anywhere, a student could use it to underline that Congress grows in power when a President is weak and perhaps to explain a lame duck presidency.

As to whether Trump would be impeached…we should wait and see if he wins the nomination first!