Politics

Junk Explained: Is Donald Trump Finally Going To Be Booted Out Of Office?

It's actually happening.

Donald Trump

Democrats in the United States are finally going to begin the process of impeaching US President Donald Trump — meaning he may finally be kicked out of office — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced.

It comes following a week of bad news for the president, who is accused of attempting to bribe a foreign government into digging up dirt on a political rival.

Now you may be thinking, “but didn’t he get cleared of the whole Russia thing?” (Well, not really) But this time it’s not about Russia and it’s not about Hillary Clinton.

We’ll do our best to explain.

What Is Trump Accused Of Doing?

Ok, this is a bit messy, but it’s important. You’ve probably heard of Joe Biden, the former vice president of the United States under Barack Obama, and current frontrunner to take on Trump in 2020 election.

During Biden’s time as VP, his son, Hunter, was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company whose owner had at one time been investigated by a top Ukrainian prosecutor. As VP, Biden called for the resignation of the prosecutor, who was also accused of being soft on corruption. But Biden wasn’t alone — many western countries wanted the prosecutor to go, and Biden was only representing the official position of the US government at the time.

Still, some said it wasn’t a good look for Biden to be attacking a prosecutor who was investigating a company that his son was a board member of. Neither of the Bidens have ever been accused of wrongdoing, and they’ve always said they never discussed Hunter’s private business dealings.

Fast forward a few years, Trump is President, and Congress has authorised hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine. In a phone call with the Ukrainian president, Trump allegedly said he was withholding the aid and urged the president to dig up dirt on Biden.

That is the president of the United States allegedly urging a foreign government to damage his biggest political rival in order to influence an election. Some people might call that corruption.

An intelligence officer listening in on the call thought it all sounded a bit dodgy and blew the whistle, but now the Trump White House is trying to block Congress from investigating the issue.

Eventually the aid to Ukraine was released, and Trump says he’ll release a transcript of the call showing he did nothing wrong. But that hasn’t happened yet.

What Did Pelosi Announce Today?

Today, Pelosi announced the House of Representatives would launch impeachment inquiries.

“I’m directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella … The president must be held accountable,” she said.

This is the first step in the process of impeachment. Several House committees will call witnesses and seek documents in an attempt to get to the bottom of what Trump has done.

“I can say with authority the Trump administration’s actions undermine both our national security and our intelligence and our protections of whistleblowers,” she said. “The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the constitution, especially when the president says, ‘Article Two says I can do whatever I want’.

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonourable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.

“The President must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”

Trump reacted to the announcement with typical subtlety.

What Is Impeachment And How Does It Work?

Impeachment is the process by which a US president is booted out of office. It requires both houses of Congress to vote that the president is guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanours”.  It’s never actually been done before, although Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton came close, and Richard Nixon jumped before he could be pushed.

It’s a murky process where a lot of the rules aren’t exactly clear. For example, there’s no official definition of “high crimes and misdemeanours”.

It begins with the inquiries announced by Pelosi today. If the committees find enough evidence to impeach, they’ll move forward with the process.

Once the inquiry is conducted, the House will vote to impeach the president. Democrats have a majority in the House, meaning the vote is likely to succeed. Things then move to the Senate, where an impeachment an impeachment trial overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court is held, then two thirds of Senators would need to vote to impeach Trump.

Republicans (Trump’s party) have a slim majority in the Senate, meaning 20 Republican senators would need to switch sides and vote against Trump in order for him to actually be forced out of office. That seems unlikely, but isn’t impossible depending on what we find out during the inquiry.

So, basically, today is the first of many steps that may or may not lead to Donald Trump being booted out of office, but will almost certainly lead to an incredibly damaging process that will consume US politics for months to come.


Rob Stott is the Managing Editor of Junkee Media, you can yell at him about politics @Rob_Stott.