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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > March 2017 > High crimes, low odds

High crimes, low odds

You’re never going to oust Trump using the law—unless the politics turns

Taking liberties

P resident Donald Trump’s business dealings, unhinged tweets and conflicts of interest, coupled with lurid sexual allegations and whispers of Russian links have led some to dream that impeachment could be just around the corner. The chatter started even before he took office, and by January’s end half a million people had signed the “Impeach Trump Now” petition. It’s all very wishful thinking.

Article II, Section 4 of the US Constitution states: “The President, Vice President and all civil officers… shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The House of Representatives must vote upon an impeachment resolution and the Judiciary Committee conduct an investigation. If the House then accepts the impeachment charges, the action moves to the Senate, where a trial takes place. To convict an impeached president a full two-thirds of the Senate must find him guilty. The first of these steps (Committee investigation) has taken place three times: in 1868 (President Andrew Johnson), 1974 (Richard Nixon) and 1998 (Bill Clinton). The second (House vote and Senate trial), twice— for Presidents Johnson and Clinton, but not Nixon, who resigned before trial. The third (conviction) has never taken place.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s March issue: Sam Tanenhaus, George Magnus and Dahlia Lithwick examine the state of America after Donald Trump’s first couple of weeks. Tanenhaus looks at the situation faced by the American press, Magnus looks at the state of global trade and Lithwick inspects the diminishing right to choice women face over abortion. Anne Perkins explores the rise of Theresa May through the political ranks and David Edmonds looks at how empathy affects our decision making. Also in this issue: Jay Elwes on Trump’s relationship with America’s intelligence agencies, Anita Charlesworth on the state of the NHS and Nick Cohen on what is done in the name of “the people” by politicians
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