Can House Democrats Actually Impeach President Trump?

Rumors have circulated about possible impeachment of President Trump since he took oath, but the possibility is becoming more and more real as House Democrats drafted articles of impeachment on Monday. Representatives Brad Sherman and Al Green came out on June 7th, saying they were drafting the articles in response to Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. When speaking on the subject, Green stated that no person, regardless of position, is above the law in our country, and that includes President Trump’s supposed obstruction of justice in firing Comey. Sherman is expected to present the articles later this week, saying that he would consult his colleagues before going any further. 

Other House Democrats were not so eager to accept the impeachment articles, creating a lot of backlash and unhappiness within the group. Rep. Mike Capuano (D- Massachusetts) took the lead in opposing the documents, his main reasoning being that they distracted from investigations over Trump’s possible ties with Russia. Capuano’s opinions were echoed by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Joe Crowley of New York. Capuano and others made it clear that they thought it was best to bring the topic up for discussion among the House Democrats as a whole, to get everyone’s opinion and develop a course of action. 

While the possibility of President Trump’s impeachment is very real, the steps to actually impeach a president are much more complex and time-consuming than just drafting up articles of impeachment. Both the House and the Senate have to agree on impeachment, and a two-thirds vote from the Senate would be required to do so. With a 54-46 majority in the Senate, Republicans do have the advantage in voting down the articles, assuming they voted based on party affiliation. No other president has been impeached by both the House and Senate, Bill Clinton’s impeachment being voted down by the Senate and Richard Nixon resigning before the action could occur. Following Sherman’s introduction of the articles, GOP leaders will have only a few weeks to determine how the House Judiciary Committee responds. 

The real question for both parties is in regard to the upcoming 2018 congressional elections. Many Democrats, looking to regain a majority in Congress next year, see Trump staying in office as a way to help them do so. The way they see it, President Trump can continue perplexing the public with his social media presence and decision-making, and by the time 2018 rolls around people will be ready for a new Congress. While this notion is a stretch, the principle is there as far as political strategy, as a calm, serene Pence in office coming into 2018 would most likely only strengthen Republican holdings in Congress. Similarly, the GOP has to look at Trump’s impeachment in a sensitive light, because while he is fulfilling campaign promises and providing a conservative-minded opinion as Commander-in-Chief, he also could be a hindrance in maintaining a comfortable majority in Congress.