Johnson to vote against articles of impeachment, Senators prepare for trial

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The Capitol is seen in Washington, early Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Voting on two articles of impeachment against President Trump is expected in a matter of days by the Judiciary Committee and by Christmas in the full House. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KELO) — Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) is not breaking from his party ahead of next week’s impeachment vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I’m voting no on impeachment as I have in the past,” Johnson said in a statement to KELOLAND News. “Given the process and facts before us, I don’t believe removal is in the best interest of our nation.”

The lower chamber of Congress will likely impeach President Donald Trump next week. That doesn’t mean the 45th President of the United States will be removed from office though. The case then moves to the U.S. Senate for a trial. That is expected to happen in early 2020.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) didn’t lock himself into a position on what he will do with the two articles of impeachment if brought to the Senate.

“If impeachment articles come to the Senate, the majority leader has indicated that we will take them up. Ultimately, the Senate as a body will decide how to proceed from there,” Thune said in a statement. “Meanwhile, Senate Republicans remain focused on funding the military, which Democrats have repeatedly delayed, and passing USMCA, which is a huge priority for South Dakota farmers and ranchers.”

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) hasn’t made official comments on the articles of impeachment being drafted, but a spokesperson for the junior Senator from South Dakota said he is against them.

“Based on everything Sen. Rounds has seen so far, he doesn’t believe there’s an impeachable offense,” his spokesperson said.

Here’s what is next…

At this point in the process, former President Richard Nixon resigned and President Bill Clinton was walking into a Senate trial. Here’s what will likely happen from here.


The process

STEP 1: Allegations made

The House of Representatives opened up an impeachment inquiry officially on September 24, 2019. Six committees are handling the inquiry: Financial Services, Judiciary, Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Reform and Ways and Means.

The U.S. House resolution setting procedures for public impeachment hearings passed on October 13, 2019.

There have been both closed-door depositions and public hearings in the impeachment process in both the House intelligence and judiciary committees.

STEP 2: The committee has enough evidence for impeachment. The U.S. House of Representatives holds a vote on Articles of Impeachment.

This is the step we are currently in and a vote is expected for next week in the full House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives need a simple majority.

Simple majority = 218 of 435 members

The House right now:
233 Democrats
197 Republicans
1 Independent
4 Vacancies

If they don’t get enough votes (less than 218), the hearings end and President Trump remains in office.

If 218 or more vote in favor of the Articles of Impeachment, the process moves forward.

If the U.S. House votes in favor, Trump is impeached.

Now, the process moves to the U.S. Senate.

STEP 3: The U.S. Senate holds a trial.

The 100 Senators serve as jurors and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts presides.

After the trial, the Senate will hold a vote to convict the President.

The U.S. Senate needs a two-thirds majority vote to convict.

Two-thirds majority = 67 of 100 members

The Senate right now:
53 Republicans
45 Democrats
2 Independents (both caucus with Democrats)

The history

Only two presidents have been impeached in American history.

First was President Andrew Johnson in 1868. He was impeached by the House, but never convicted by the Senate and thus remained in office.

Many Americans will remember President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998. He was also acquitted of the charges against him when the Senate failed to convict him.

Presidents John Tyler and Richard Nixon both had attempted impeachments. Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.

No president has been removed from office by the U.S. Senate.

What are high crimes and misdemeanors?

The U.S. Constitution outlines that a president can be removed for:

  • Treason
  • Bribery
  • Other high crimes and misdemeanors

Treason is defined in the Constitution.

Bribery isn’t defined, but American law has long held it’s when a person gives an official money or gifts to influence their behavior in office.

High crimes and misdemeanors is a tricky one.

Alexander Hamilton wrote, impeachable offenses are:

The phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” was used in the impeachments of Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Clinton. It has also been used in a number of federal judge impeachments for the following reasons, according to the Constitutional Rights Foundation:

  • Being habitually drunk
  • Showing favoritism on the bench
  • Using judicial power unlawfully
  • Using the office for financial gain
  • Unlawfully punishing people for contempt of court
  • Submitting false expense accounts
  • Making false statements under oath
  • Disclosing confidential information