March 31, 2020

Impeachment for Dummies: Political science department breaks it down

The topic of presidential impeachment has been one of the most polarizing things in the news, and it is important to have a basic understanding of such a relevant topic. 

At the end of September, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

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Impeachment is known to be a very complex process that is hard to comprehend, which may make it difficult to keep up with all of the updates in the news regarding the allegations against President Trump. 

To put it in the simplest terms possible, the House of Representatives must first gather enough evidence to make a case against the president if they believe a high crime (abuse of power by a high-level public official) has been committed. 

Then, if enough evidence is gathered by the House and a majority votes to impeach, the case moves to the Senate to be carried out in a fuller investigation. It takes a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict the president.

Only two presidents have ever been impeached before: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both cases were ultimately acquitted and they each were able to complete their terms in office. 

Richard Nixon was also accused of committing a crime while in office, but he resigned before he could ever be impeached. Therefore, no president has ever actually been removed from office as a result of the impeachment process. 

“It’s wrong to use the power of the presidency for furthering one’s campaign, meaning to actually, explicitly make a policy in a way that would help or move forward a re-election initiative,” Dr. Suzanne Marilley, associate professor of political science, said. 

Dr. Suzanne Marilley, Associate Professor of Political Science.

President Trump is being accused of abusing the power of the presidency to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. More specifically, the allegations are that he pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens by threatening to withhold aid to their country. 

Considering that Biden is one of the Democratic nominees running against Trump in the 2020 election, it can be argued that this was for Trump’s personal gain. 

Of course, this impeachment situation is something that should matter to all students in some way, but it is especially relevant to those who are studying political science and are involved in politics on campus. 

Junior Political Science major J.J. Price.

“I think as a political strategy, [the impeachment inquiry against Trump] is a bad idea on the part of the Democrats,” JJ Price, a junior political science major, said. “Because I think it will have a lot of backlash in the election if they actually decide to vote on an impeachment. But with that being said, I think it’s something that should be done. I think he is deserving of impeachment.”

The impeachment situation hasn’t affected Price’s experience as a political science student too much yet, but he did mention that his professors have talked about how difficult Trump’s presidency has made teaching certain things. This is mainly because Trump has become an exception to many rules.

Hunter Patterson, a junior political science student and president of College Democrats, feels as though the impeachment situation has already had a significant impact on his experience as a political science student. 

Hunter Patterson, Junior Political Science Major and President of College Democrats.

In his public policy class, they’ve taken the time to unpack the impeachment inquiry and discuss how it will subsequently impact public policy. 

“I’m confident that whatever the outcome of the inquiry is, it will be the right decision,” Patterson said. 

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