The big “I” word (impeach) appears more and more frequently these days, so perhaps a basic review of its meaning and application is in order.
First, the definition as it relates to our Constitution and the functioning of our government, is “The President, Vice President, and all Civil officers may be removed by Impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The House of Representatives brings forth the formal accusation and the Senate tries and convicts. Impeachment by the House requires only a simple majority vote; conviction by the Senate requires a two-thirds vote.
But what, exactly, did the framers of the Constitution mean by “high crimes and misdemeanors”? As Infoplease comments, “the ocean of wrongdoing encompassed by [these words] is vast. Abuse of power and serious misconduct fit into this category, but political discord does not.”
Two Presidents – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton – were impeached, but neither was convicted. Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.
Because the current administration continues to be under considerable scrutiny on several fronts, we should be aware of this potential Constitutional recourse.