ONLINE searches for the phrase “how to impeach a President” jumped by 5,000 per cent the day Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.
Now that the Democrats have the majority in the House of Representatives it could become a reality. Here’s what you need to know.
Donald Trump’s grip on power could be loosened if the Democrats win control of Congress[/caption]
What is impeachment and how does it work?
In the US, impeachment is a formal charge of serious wrongdoing against the holder of public office.
It is one of the few ways a sitting President can be kicked out of the White House before an election.
The US Constitution states a President “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours”.
The “sole power of impeachment” is held by the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Congress.
A simple majority is required – i.e. more than half of Congressmen must vote to impeach the President.
Then the case would be tried by the Senate, the upper chamber of Congress, where a two-thirds majority is needed.
Both houses of Congress were controlled by Mr Trump’s Republican party, until the results of the midterm elections on November 6.
While the senate is still controlled by the Republicans, with 51 one seats, the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, with 219 seats.
This means that it’s possible for the House of Representatives to pass a vote to impeach the president.
However, a two-thirds majority of 67 Senators voting to impeach Trump would still be needed in the Senate when it is tried – and this is unlikely.
Trump is facing fresh calls for his impeachment following claims he pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate his 2020 rival’s son for ‘corruption’[/caption]
Who has been impeached?
Only two Presidents in history have been impeached, despite numerous threats on others.
The most recent was Bill Clinton, who was impeached in the House on charges of perjury and obstructing justice on December 19, 1998.
It related to his denials of an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
However, when the trial reached the Senate in 1999, it failed to get close to the two-thirds backing it needed to remove him from office.
The other was Andrew Johnson, who served as President for four years from 1865.
He was impeached by the House in 1868, just 11 days after he got rid of his secretary of war Edwin Stanton.
The two-thirds majority needed in the Senate was missed by just one vote.
Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached over the Watergate scandal.
Elsewhere, South Korean president Park Geun-hye was impeached over an alleged corruption scandal following months of protest.
She became the first democratically-elected leader of the country to be ousted from office after judges upheld politicians’ vote to impeach her.
Could Donald Trump be impeached?
Trump is more likely to be impeached now that the Democrats have seized control of the House of Representatives.
He could potentially face charges arising from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion with Russia during the election campaign.
Three prominent Democrats called for the impeachment of Trump after Mueller’s first public comments about the about the probe.
Mueller has broken his two-year silence to deny the President’s claim that the Russia collusion report proved his innocence.
He said in a speech from the Department of Justice, Washington, today: “If we had confidence the president DIDN’T commit a crime, we’d have said so”.
Democratic candidates Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Pete Buttigieg publicly advocated for the first time for impeachment.
Bookmakers slashed the odds on Trump being impeached to 4/6 after Cohen’s conviction in August.
He would also be vulnerable if he decided to pardon former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was found guilty on eight of 18 charges in Virginia.
Manafort was found guilty of five tax fraud charges, one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud.
MORE ON DONALD TRUMP
What’s the latest?
Trump is facing fresh calls for his impeachment following claims he pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate his 2020 rival’s son for “corruption”.
Bombshell reports last night accused the US President of repeatedly urging his Kiev counterpart to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice-President Joe Biden who was a director of a Ukrainian gas firm.
If the allegations are true, Mr Trump will have “abused his power for personal gain”, the US House Intelligence Committee chairman has warned.
The potential breach of office is said to have occurred during a July phone conversation with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy where Trump allegedly threatened to withhold millions of dollars in US aid unless a prosecutor who was looking into the company was fired.
Senior Democrat Adam Schiff, who has previously opposed impeachment, said Mr Trump has “crossed the Rubicon” if he tried to coerce a foreign leader into influencing US elections.
He told CNN: “If the president is essentially withholding military aid at the same time that he is trying to browbeat a foreign leader to do something illicit, to provide dirt on his opponent during a presidential campaign, then that (impeachment) may be the only remedy that is co-equal to the evil that conduct represents.”
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