Raise your hand if you think that impeaching an office holder means removing that person from office. Thank you. You may lower your hand now.
You are mistaken. To impeach means to charge a public official with misconduct before an appropriate tribunal. To charge, not to remove from office.
As we witness the rise of discontent with President Donald Trump, the chorus increases in intensity and volume: “Impeach him!” Will that get him out of the Oval Office? Not so fast. Here is what the Free Dictionary tells us:
[Impeachment is] “formal written allegations of the causes that warrant the criminal trial of a public official before a quasi-political court. In cases of impeachment involving the president, vice president, or other federal officers, the House of Representatives prepares the articles of impeachment, since it is endowed with the ‘sole Power of Impeachment,’ under Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 of the Constitution. The articles are sent to the Senate, which has the exclusive power to ‘try all Impeachments’ by virtue of Article I, Section 3, Clause 6.
“Articles of impeachment are analogous to an indictment that initiates criminal prosecutions of private persons.”
In the case of Donald Trump, the House of Representatives, which would need to bring the charge or charges, and the Senate, which would conduct the trial, are populated mostly by cowards who still haven’t figured out how to react to this president, whether to support him or resist him. Put another way, they are worrying about how to protect their own political hides. A few, finally fed up, have demonstrated the moral courage to speak out. A few.
Of course, Trump might just give up and resign. Nixon did. That would leave us with Mike Pence as our president. Let’s pause to think about that.