Constitutional Basis for Impeachment

The US Constitution is the foundation of our American legal system. It was written and adopted by the Founding Fathers at the Federal Convention in 1787. The Constitution spells out the process by which Trump or other Officers can be impeached.

The full text of the Constitution is available online: [ACLU] [] [Wikipedia] []

Article II, Sec. 4 states that:

"The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.".

Impeachable offenses include clear violations of criminal law but also misconduct that undermines the integrity of the office or violations of public trust that injures the state.

Article 1, Section 2 states:

"The House of Representatives shall chuse[sic] their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment."

That means that the House of Representatives, not the Senate, is the body that starts the process. They are the ones who would formally accuse Trump of high Crimes or Misdemeanors. (Note that impeachment is a process that involves an accusation and a trial. Impeachment does not mean removal from office. Remember that Clinton was impeached but was found innocent of the charges. So he remained in office.)

Article 1, Section 3 states:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

That means that the Senate conducts the actual trial after the impeachment in the House. It takes a 2/3 majority to convict.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

That means that whoever is impeached and found guilty will lose their job and cannot be reappointed, reelected, or given a juicy government contract. The Senate cannot send Trump to jail. But once he is out of office then he would be subject to lawsuits, war crimes tribunals, and other charges in other courts.

Article 2, Section 2 states:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

That means that Trump or his successor cannot pardon himself or others for impeachable offenses.