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How a US President can be impeached?

Topics Covered:

  1. Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.

How a US President can be impeached?

What to study?

For Prelims: How is US President impeached?

For Mains: Impeachment process in India.

 

Context: Donald Trump has become the third President to be impeached by the US House. He was accused of enlisting foreign government to investigate political rival before 2020 election.

Background:

  • So far only two American presidents have been impeached. In 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached on charges of sexual relationship with his intern. However, the senate acquitted him. Before him, in 1868, President Andrew Johnson was impeached. He was acquitted by one vote in the Senate.
  • In 1974, President Nixon resigned over water gate corruption charges. The judiciary committee approved the articles of impeachment before the house could even pass them.

For Prelims and Mains:

What is Impeachment?

Impeachment is a provision that allows Congress to remove the President of the United States.

Under the US Constitution:

  1. The House of Representatives (Lower House) has the “the sole power of impeachment” while the Senate (Upper House) has “the sole power to try all impeachments”.
  2. The Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court has the duty of presiding over impeachment trials in the Senate.

Grounds for impeachment:

The President can be removed from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.

Essentially, it means an abuse of power by a high-level public official. This does not necessarily have to be a violation of an ordinary criminal statute. Historically, in the US, it has encompassed corruption and other abuses, including trying to obstruct judicial proceedings.

The process:

  1. It begins with an investigation by a House committee. If they find that there is enough evidence of wrongdoing, it will refer the matter to the full House.                                                      Stage_By_Stage
  2. HOUSE VOTE: When the full House votes, if one or more of the articles of impeachment gets a majority vote, the President is impeached. Next, the proceedings move to the Senate.
  3. SENATE TRIAL & VOTE:The Senate holds a trial, overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. A team of lawmakers from the House, known as managers, play the role of prosecutors. The President has defence lawyers, and the Senate serves as the jury. If at least two-thirds of the Senators present find the President guilty, he is removed and the Vice President takes over as President.

Sources: the Hindu.