Impeachment According to the US Constitution

The Constitution on Impeachment

US Constitution

Some American citizens, and also some citizens of other countries believe that impeachment removes the President of the United States from office. However, the Constitution states:


Article I Section 2 Paragraph 5 The House of Representatives shall chuse1 their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Article I Section 3 Paragraph 6 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.

Article I Section 3 Paragraph 7 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.

Impeach2 (ĭm-pēch′) tr.v. im·peached, im·peach·ing, im·peach·es
1. a. To make an accusation against: impeach someone of a crime.
    b. To bring formal charges against (a public official) for wrongdoing while in office.
2. To raise doubts about; discredit or disparage: impeach a witness’s credibility; impeach someone’s character.

As we can see from the Constitution and the definition above, impeachment does not remove anyone, such as the President, a judge, or any civil officer of the United States Federal Government from office. All it does is make a formal charge against the civil officer that he or she is no longer able to perform his or her duties due to some wrongdoing the person committed while in office.

It is a formal charge just like a charge taken by a Federal, State, County, or Municipal prosecutor against a person accused of a crime or a misdemeanor. Just as it is in American jurisprudence, a person is innocent until proven guilty; thus a charge is not a verdict of guilt. A charge must first be tried in court and the accused must be eventually convicted of committing the crime or misdemeanor before he or she is guilty.

The impeachment process against a sitting civil officer of the Unites States Federal Government is similar. The House of Representatives, by a simple majority, may impeach a civil officer, which simply means the officer is formally charged with some wronging. The standard for wrongdoing, according to Article II Section 4 of the Constitution is treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Article II Section 4. 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.

Once the impeachment is approved by majority vote, the formal charges are referred to the Senate where a trial takes place. In the case of the President or Vice President, the trial is presided over by the Chief Justice of the Unites States. Other cases are presided over by the Presiding Officer of the United States Senate, which may be the Vice President, but is usually the president pro tempore, who is an elected Senator. Upon impeachment, the house selects members to be the House Managers, which are the equivalent of prosecuting attorneys, to present the formal charges to the Senate.

The trial takes place in the Senate where the charges are heard and debated, and witnesses are called and heard. The civil officer being tried may provide his or her own defense or may bring attorneys for that defense. Once the prosecution and defense rest, the Senate deliberates. A supermajority or two thirds of Senators must vote to convict in order for the civil officer to be removed from office. If a supermajority is not reached, then the civil officer is acquitted. The decision of the Senate is then formally filed with the Secretary of State. If convicted, the civil officer is immediately removed from office.

Conviction carries no civil or criminal penalties; it simply removes the civil officer from office. Once removed from office, the person can then be subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law in a court of law (Article I Section 3 Paragraph 7, above).

The Constitution specifically states that anyone impeached and convicted cannot be pardoned by Presidential Pardon:

Article II Section Parragraph 2: “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.”

As far as impeachment of President Trump or Justice Kavanaugh goes, if the Democrats win the House, they may have the votes to impeach the President and maybe even justice Kavanaugh, which takes a simple majority there. Yet, even if the Democrats win a small majority in the Senate, which is unlikely, they won’t have enough votes to remove either man from office. The actual trial of the impeached person takes place in the Senate where removal of the person takes a 2/3 majority vote, which the Democrats will not be able to muster. Most people do not realize that impeachment does not remove a president from office; most people wrongly think it does. Only the Senate can do that and only with a supermajority vote.

If you dislike the President and/or his policies, don’t get your hopes up that the President will be removed from office. If you support the President and his policies, don’t worry about him being removed from office. It is not going to happen based on the unfounded charges the Democrats currently have against the President. Being “unpresidential” as the Democrats claim, which is an extremely subjective term, does not amount to “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).

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  1. This word, chuse, is the original spelling in the Constitution
  2. American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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