Troy professor explains impeachment situation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 28, 2019

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Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, announced a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Troy University political science professor Dr. Maryam Stevenson laid out the process for those who don’t know.

The whistleblower who originally filed the complaint Aug. 12, said he received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States was using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election. The existence of the complaint that Trump abused his power to help his re-election is what motivated Pelosi and other top Democrats to embrace an impeachment inquiry after months of resisting it.

“The formal impeachment inquiry is a sort of a step before the articles of impeachment,” Stevenson said. “We are not at articles of impeachment yet. Basically, what she has said is that she wants the appropriate committee to investigate the situation to see if formal articles of impeachment should be filed.”

The Articles of Impeachment is the set of charges drafted against a public official to initiate the impeachment process.

The next step in the process, according to Stevenson, is the House Intelligence Committee will conduct an investigation.

“They will probably speak with the whistleblower and they will certainly look at the transcripts of the phone call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky,” Stevenson said. “They will also speak to witnesses, conduct a hearing and determine whether or not there sufficient evidence to warrant formal articles of impeachment.”

If the House Intelligence Committee decides not to file formal articles of impeachment, Stevenson said the situation gets complicated.

“Technically the articles of impeachment can still be filed, but it is unlikely,” Stevenson said. “If they do not find that there is sufficient evidence, then they will make that recommendation. At that point, the House, under Nancy Pelosi, can make a determination as to whether or not they want to file formal articles of impeachment against the President. If they do, then they will start a more formal investigation that will conclude with a vote by the entire House as to whether or not they feel like the evidence warrants being impeached.”

Stevenson said the process will take several months before anything is filed.

“I would be surprised if anything formal came out of the House within the next few weeks,” Stevenson said. “We are looking at several months before any kind of formal vote comes out of the Hose.”

Two presidents in American history have been impeached, President Richard Nixon was on the verge of being impeached when he resigned from office on Aug. 8, 1974.

“This would be the third time, if it goes through,” Stevenson said. “Andrew Johnson was the first and then Bill Clinton.”

What will happen if President Trump does get impeached? Stevenson said it could backfire against the Democrats.

“If President Trump is removed from office, then Vice President Mike Pence would be sworn in,” Stevenson said. “2020 is an election year. So, if that does happen, it could be a very situation for Alabama voters because a lot of states have already closed their primaries for the Republican Party. As the weeks and months go by, the likelihood of states having that option for a primary in the Republican Party is going to decrease. History shows that incumbent presidents typically have an easier time running for president. They kind of have institutional incentives that make it easier for them to win. One important thing to consider and look at in the wake of the 2020 elections is whether or not American and Alabama voters are going to show up to vote for Vice President Mike Pence. It could even end up being a referendum on President Trump anyway. So, his voting base would get even more fired up with his removal that they want to reward his party. Even if he isn’t removed, this could still end up backfiring on the Democratic Party.”

President Trump tweeted on Wednesday about the situation, “There has been no President in the history of our Country who has been treated so badly as I have. The Democrats are frozen with hatred and fear. They get nothing done. This should never be allowed to happen another President. Witch Hunt!”