Expert comment: Impeachment of Trump

Dr Andrew Moran, Head of International Relations and Politics, provides insight on the latest call for the US President's impeachment from Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi

Date: 25 September 2019

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi is engaging in a high stakes game by beginning a formal impeachment inquiry into claims that President Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden, currently the President’s leading rival in next year’s presidential race. 

Get it right, and Trump will be politically damaged, and possibly forced from office. 

Get it wrong, and Trump voters will double down on their support for him.

The Constitution states that you can only be impeached if you have been deemed to commit ‘high crimes and misdemeanours.’ What that means is open to interpretation, but Pelosi argues that the president has done enough and ‘must be held accountable; no one is above the law.’ For Trump, it is a continuation of how he feels victimised as president, branding it ‘A total Witch Hunt!’.

What we can be certain of is a bitter battle. The numbers suggest Trump will be impeached in the House, where the Democrats dominate, but that he will be saved by Republicans in the Senate, where a two-thirds majority is needed to remove him from office.

History could be on Trump's side. Only two presidents have ever been impeached - Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson - and both survived a vote in the Senate and remained as president.  A third president, however, Richard Nixon, famously resigned before he could be impeached. What happens next is anyone’s guess.