Impeachment of the President
How Can a President be Removed from Office?
Hmm… I wonder why you might ask such a question at this time. Well, here’s the basics on impeaching a president and removing a president from office (not the same thing!).
Impeachment is based on the concept of Rule of Law. This means that no government official, including the president, is “above the law.” So, if the president does something illegal, he or she may be prosecuted for it.
For more on legal and civics basics, see our Legal Basics. And check out the new book, Law is Not for Lawyers (It’s for Everyone): Empower Yourself with the Basics of Law and Civics.
For What Reasons Can a President be Removed from Office?
Congress has the power to remove a sitting president for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” (U.S. Constitution, Article I and Article II) There is no precise legal definition of these; it is at the discretion of Congress to decide if certain actions meet the standard.
Is Impeachment the Same as Removal from Office?
No. Impeachment is essentially an “indictment” which begins the trial to determine whether the president should be removed.
Can a President be Disqualified from Holding Office Again?
Yes. Congress can vote to disqualify a president from holding office in the future. This can occur either through its Article I powers (in which it is unclear whether a 2/3 vote is require or just a simple majority); or through the 14th Amendment, Section 3, where the president has engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” (which requires a simple majority vote).
What Are The Steps to Removing a President?
Step 1: The House of Representatives initiates an impeachment inquiry. This involves investigations and reports of the conduct of the president. The House would then draft Articles of Impeachment.
Step 2: The House votes (by simple majority) on whether to impeach the president based on the Articles of Impeachment. If yes, it moves to the Senate.
Step 3: The Senate holds a trial of the president to decide whether his actions warrant removal from office.
Step 4: The Senate votes (must have at least 2/3 approval) on whether to remove the president from office.
What Happens After a President is Removed?
After removal from office, prosecutors can then charge the president with a crime, such as treason. If convicted, the president would be sentenced to jail or even the death penalty.
Who Becomes President if the President is Removed?
The Vice President.
Who Becomes President if the Vice President is also Removed?
Then the Speaker of the House of Representatives becomes President.
Can a President be Impeached and/or “Removed” After He Leaves Office?
In the past, federal officials have been impeached and “removed” even after they left office. Thus, most scholars believe this can also apply to a President.