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Impeachment Trial Lurches to a Shaky Start

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Written by Joey Slusher

American politics has recently become dominated (for good reason) by the presidential impeachment proceedings. Whatever it is people may believe about the proceedings, the fact of the matter is that these are some historic events that will change the American political scene for decades to come. 

In our 244 year history as a nation, only two presidents prior to President Trump were impeached. Andrew Johnson was the first in 1868, and Bill Clinton was the second in 1998. While both were convicted by the House of Representatives, neither of them were declared guilty and removed from office by the Senate.

President Trump at this point is at the second stage of the impeachment process. The House of Representatives has confirmed both articles of Impeachment. Now the Senate will hold a trial for the president that is to be presided over by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts. The Senators will serve as a jury, and a number of members of the House will serve as prosecutors and eventually vote to either convict or declare President Trump not guilty.

While these rules and procedures were decided decades ago, the rules of Trump’s impeachment trial were decided by the Senate leadership, headed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). Naturally, these rules and the entire trial have become defined by the highly partisan environment in Congress.

In the House, the vote to impeach was completely based on party lines, with all the Democrats voting to impeach and the Republicans voting against. This is expected to be the result in the Senate as well, where the Democrats would need a two-thirds majority in order to remove the President from office. 

Unless some shocking new information were to come to light and be brought to the Senate, Trump will most likely remain in office. McConnell’s controversial, severely restricted rules make this outcome all but certain. A variety of forces and circumstances have converged to make the likelihood that President Trump will be removed from office very low. 

Unlike his impeached predecessors, Trump is eligible to run for another term in office. He has already announced his candidacy, so President Trump will become the first impeached President to run for another term. It is unclear whether this will help or hurt his candidacy, but the amount to which this will change our system is currently unimaginable, particularly if the President wins another term in office.