What does an impeachment inquiry mean? Expert breaks down the process

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As new developments surface in the investigations into the actions of President Donald Trump, what does this all really mean? What can we expect to see in the coming months?

This impeachment inquiry is just a beginning step into what is a lengthy process. It does not automatically equal a removal from office, nor does impeachment itself equal removal.

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry Tuesday.

“The impeachment process is not a judicial process,” Associate Professor Aaron King said. “It’s very much a political process.”

King is an Associate Professor in Political Science at UNCW.

He says the impeachment process is not cut and dry.

“Speaker Pelosi is charging several different committee to essentially put forward the best case for what charges are possible to be brought up,” he said.

King says the impeachment inquiry does not change too much just yet. Trump has been under investigation in the past. King says the inquiry is just a more official form of investigation.

“If it comes to it, the House could decide to actually have a vote on impeachment, which of course is bringing formal charges against the president,” he said. “That requires a majority vote.”

But King says there is no guarantee that vote to impeach will even happen, and there must be a strong enough case against Trump.

If the House votes to impeach and it passes, the Senate will vote on whether to convict.

“The Senate acts as actually trying the case,” he said. “To convict someone of these crimes and then actually remove them from office, requires 2/3 of the Senate.”

If the majority votes in favor to convict, then and only then, would a president be removed from office.

But don’t expect this to happen anytime soon.

“That is a long ways off,” King said. “It is certainly a messy process.”

King says a president will be removed from office if and when they are convicted on any charges.

He says that if we take a look back in history, President Nixon resigned before he was formally impeached. President Clinton was impeached, but not removed from office.