In-Depth: Here is how the impeachment process works

In-Depth: Here is how the impeachment process works

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

What is a fair impeachment trial? Many think the process is removing someone from office, not necessarily. 

"Impeachment is very similar to an indictment would be in a criminal trial," said Mark McKenzie, associate professor of political science at Texas Tech. "So before we have the trial and before the jurors decide to declare someone guilty or not guilty charges have to be brought."

The process of impeachment is only applied to civil officers of the U.S. government that also includes federal judges. The constitution grants only the House of Representatives the ability to charge. The Senate is the only body that can try and find fact. High crimes and misdemeanors is vague. The founding fathers only named treason and bribery as specific impeachable offenses.

"Those are the parameters that the house needs to go by from a constitutional perspective to indict someone," said McKenzie. "The term high crimes and misdemeanors are very broad. We already have a republican candidate that wants to challenge president Trump in the primaries to allege that the president committed treason."

Impeachment does not automatically mean removal from office. It's treated like a potential sentence. House democrats will have an uphill battle when it comes to numbers with republicans controlling the Senate. McKenzie adds it's unlikely the president will face any criminal prosecution while in office. However, if he is removed or loses the 2020 election it could be a different story.

Only two commanders in chief have been impeached president Andrew Johnson and president Bill Clinton both were acquitted by the Senate and finished their terms in office. President Richard Nixon came close to facing an impeachment inquiry, but resigned before it began. 





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