ONLINE searches for the phrase ‘how to impeach a president’ jumped by 5,000 per cent the day Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the race to become President.
Since taking office, Mr Trump has been under constant scrutiny and a special prosecutor threatens to derail his presidency. Here’s the latest on a possible impeachment and how the process works.
Trump’s ‘crimes’ were well known to the electorate before taking office[/caption]
What is impeachment?
Impeachment is where a formal accusation of serious wrongdoing is lobbied against a sitting president or any other senior US official.
According to the United States Constitution, the House of Representatives can vote to impeach but it’s the Senate, the upper chamber, which actually tries the case.
The US Constitution states a president “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours”.
The process has to be started by the House of Representatives – currently controlled by Trump’s own party – and needs a simple majority to pass.
However impeachment does not necessarily result in removal from office – it is only a legal statement of charges.
A trial is set in the Senate and a two-thirds vote is necessary for removal – but in America’s history this milestone has never been reached.
Who has been impeached?
Only two presidents in history have been impeached, despite numerous threats on others.
The most recent was the 42nd president of the United States Bill Clinton, who was impeached in the House on two charges, one of perjury and one of obstruction of justice, on December 19, 1998.
However, when it reached the Senate in 1999, it failed to get close to the two-thirds backing in needed to pass.
The other was Andrew Johnson, who served as president for four years from 1865.
He was impeached by the House in 1868 – just 11 days after he got rid of his secretary of war Edwin Stanton.
The two-thirds majority needed to get rid of him in the Senate was missed by just one vote.
Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached over the Watergate scandal.
Elsewhere, South Korean president Park Geun-hye was impeached over an alleged corruption scandal following months of protest.
She became the first democratically-elected leader of the country to be ousted from office after judges upheld politicians’ vote to impeach her.
Can Donald Trump be impeached?
Donald Trump could technically be accused of violations of his oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend” the US constitution, according to Lawfare Blog.
More than 890,000 people signed a petition calling for Donald Trump to be impeached, which sprung up almost immediately after he was inaugurated.
Democrat Robert Reich, who served in the Clinton administration, claims there are four grounds on which Trump could potentially be impeached.
The first, according to Reich, is his unproven claim that President Obama ordered his phones to be wire-tapped without providing any evidence.
Secondly, he says the constitution forbids government officials from taking things of value, but claims Trump is “steering foreign diplomatic delegations” to his Trump International Hotel.
China recently granted preliminary approval for dozens of Trump-branded businesses, including new hotels, spas, massage parlours and personal security services.
Reich also said Trump’s ban on travel from six Muslim-majority countries violates the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, which bans any law “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
Trump surprises visitors during a trip to the White House, as a portrait of Hillary Clinton watches from the wall[/caption]
He claimed Trump’s decision not to allow certain news organisations to attend his conferences could violate the 1st Amendment on the freedom of the press.
Finally he claimed Trump’s alleged relationship with Russian officials in the lead-up to the election could be considered treason under the constitution.
Trump has repeatedly denied his team had contact with Russian officials during the 2016 election, but they were revealed to have met with Russia’s US ambassador at the height of his campaign.
The President prompted impeachment speculation when he was accused of demanding FBI director James Comey abandon a probe into his top adviser Michael Flynn – just weeks before going on to sack him.
Trump eventually fired Flynn on February 13 on grounds that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russians.
But just weeks later, Trump sensationally sacked Comey as head of the FBI, saying the director “wasn’t doing a good job”.
Comey also accused Trump of trying to get him to water down the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the election.
It has also emerged his son, Donald Jr, met with a Russian lawyer to discuss potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton comes after an investigation was launched into the President over a possible obstruction of justice.
And sensationally, three former Trump campaign members — including one-time campaign boss Paul Manafort — were indicted by the grand jury being led by former FBI boss Robert Mueller III investigating alleged Russia links.
One foreign adviser on the campaign, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian ties.
Firebrand Trump also provided plenty of controversy in the run-up to his election.
But Trump is working with a Republican-controlled Congress, meaning the chances of him being impeached are minimal as it would mean the Republicans removing their party’s own president from the White House.
The majority of his party have remained loyal, despite a slump in approval ratings.
Latest Donald Trump News