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Impeaching the President: 5 possibilities

The probable impeachment of Donald Trump – like Brexit in England – has the citizens of both nations totally bored or captivated, depending on your point of view.

In the USA, in accordance with their Constitution, if a President is impeached then the Vice President takes his or her place. More on Pence later.

(Note that for this post I have borrowed heavily from the Progressive Secular Humanist site (and others) for views on the Vice President).

The point I’m making here is what difference would it make to the day-to-day running of the White House and international affairs. Would Pence be any different to Trump?

America is now 363 days from its next election. Given the length of time an impeachment will take it will certainly muddy the waters in the pre-election race.

But what does it mean to ordinary Australians unfamiliar with the American political process?

After reading what it is Pence believes in and stands for and then do a personality match with Scott Morrison you will see the purpose of my piece and the reason for posting it. Both nations would have religious nutters as their leaders.

Well, in my search for something concise and well-explained I came across this ABC article by Peter Marsh and Emily Olson on our own ABC; “Donald Trump’s impeachment will end one of these ways” which outlines five possibilities for impeachment proceeding, together with the chance of each happening.

(Before I go on, and just to make it clear where my opinion of the President of the United States of America sits, you may wish to peruse one of my earlier posts on the subject).

If you want to know more about the formal arrangements for impeachment read this. For the sake of brevity I have edited the following comments from the above site.

There are five possibilities.

1) A formal impeachment vote is never pursued

At the moment the Democrats, who control the House, are just conducting an impeachment investigation. There is a world in which Democrats decide that their investigation didn’t turn up enough evidence to hold any kind of official vote on impeachment.

Matthew Glassman, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University has said:

… it’s really important to keep in mind that impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. Which means the politics of it will have a big influence on how things play out.

Chance of this happening?

Dr. Glassman said it’s still unlikely that the Democrats drop the vote altogether.

2) An impeachment vote in the House fails before we get to the first vote in the House, the step right before is one of the most important to keep an eye on.

Chance of this happening?

Given the amount of precious policy-making time that Democrats will have put into drafting the articles at that point, it’s pretty unlikely that they’d fail to pass them.

Dr Reynolds [a senior fellow with the Brookings Institute] agrees “simply based on the number of Democrats who have come out in favor of the impeachment inquiry and that many of those Democrats did so before we had the additional information that we have now about the Ukraine call.”

Oh, and if you’re wondering when this vote could happen, your best bet is to just wait it out.

The Democrats, eager to avoid clashing with big election events, have said they’d wrap things up by December, but other reporting suggests that’s too ambitious given the weight of the choices they’ll need to make.

3) The House votes to impeach, the Senate acquits

This is the outcome where Mr. Trump’s support with Republicans holds firm.

Dr. Glassman said the Senate trial is likely to last for “weeks, not months”, running six days a week. He said the constitution is very clear about impeachment, but it doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty of the process.

It means Republicans will have a lot of control over the rules of the impeachment trial (like how long people can speak, what evidence can be presented etc.) because they hold a majority in the Senate.

Pretty much everything will be televised. “The chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the trial,” Dr Reynolds said.

As for the President himself appearing as a witness? Don’t count on it.

Republicans control 53 votes. As long as fewer than 20 decide to remove Mr. Trump from office, he’ll be acquitted.

He’s still considered to be impeached (just like Bill Clinton), but as Dry Glassman points out: “It functionally has no effect.”

Chance of this happening?

Democrats control the House. Republicans control the Senate. And partisanship remains a major factor in American politics.

All of that means as things stand at the moment – this is the most likely outcome of this impeachment process, according to Dry Glassman.

“The most likely outcome at this point is a majority vote to impeach in the House, and the President is acquitted in the Senate,” he said.

4) The House votes to impeach, the Senate convicts

This is the worst possible outcome for Mr. Trump. If 67 senators (that’s every Democrat and independent, as well as at least 20 Republicans) vote to convict, he is removed from office.

It happens immediately, and Vice-President Mike Pence is sworn in as president shortly after.

Chance of this happening?

Dr Glassman thinks this is very unlikely, but not for the reason you’d expect.

He said Mr. Trump would catch wind of Republicans’ plan to vote yes and resign before the Senate had a chance to vote, rather than lose a public vote and become the first president to ever be convicted.

5) Trump steps down (aka the Nixon approach)

This could happen at any time. Or never.

If Mr. Trump does decide to step down the impeachment process would stop, and Mr. Pence would become president.

Dr Glassman said if (and remember it’s a BIG if) this were going to happen, it would play out just like it did in 1974, when Republican leaders visited president Richard Nixon to tell him that his support had collapsed, and he would certainly be impeached.

Chance of this happening?

Probably never as the facts stand at the moment.

“There’s very little about Trump’s personality that suggests to me that this would be something that is possible,” Dr Reynolds said.

Now about Mike Pence. What do we know?

Some say that he is a “cruel, religious extremist with dreams of a Christian theocracy.” The former Indiana Governor is conservative Christian who doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state, and places his Christian faith above the U.S.

He is on the record as saying that he is ”a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.”

He was raised a Democrat by Irish-Catholic parents in Indiana, and considered John F Kennedy one of his first heroes.

His conversionto born-again Christianity, and the influence of Ronald Reagan, saw him shift to the Right of the political spectrum.”

As a practicing Evangelical and from his utterings there is much we know about how his worldview, his religion and his politics come together.

For example, we know that he is a creationist and that he thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.

As a congressman his attitude to life’s beginnings were specific. He opposed evolution, and believes that only creationism (intelligent design) provides a ”rational explanation for the known universe.” A theory disproven by science.

Five years ago when addressing the US House of Representatives he argued vehemently that evolution is ”only a theory” and that public schools should teach both the theory of intelligent design and the theory of evolution.

If you have become a little frightened at this stage hang onto your seat, there’s more to come.

Pence’s most

“controversial decision as governor was to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law in 2015.

Advocates said it would expand “religious liberty” by allowing business owners to push back when government policy was in conflict with their beliefs.”

Pence is on the record as saying that:

”I believe that God created the known universe, the earth and everything in it, including man. And I also believe that someday scientists will come to see that only the theory of intelligent design provides even a remotely rational explanation for the known universe.”

To suggest that the Bible is a literal truth is the alternate untruth.

His speech also contained the surprising and misleading claim that:

“… creationism is a valid scientific alternative to the theory of evolution, arguing that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in the public school science classroom.”

The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rational explanation.

On the environment and the subject of Climate Change Pence is a passionate denier.

And this man could be the next President of the United States of America!

My thought for the day

America may be the most advanced technological nation on earth but its social progress on matters of great moral importance, INCLUDING ITS POLITICS is still fighting its way out of the dark ages when mysticism was rampart.

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  1. Piping Bottleneck

    I despise Trump as a human being and abhor his attitudes to anything and everything. But if I was an American I would support his re-election. Trump has ripped the cover off the ‘world policeman, campaigning for peace and prosperity for all’ sham and revealed the shocking truth of a perfidious, vindictive nation that makes treaties with no intention of carrying out its own part in them. Another four years of the Donald would finish them off as a credible nation. They really have only 3 allies now, anyway – Israel and Japan who are only allies for what they can get, and Australia, which has no self-respect and is no better than a coolie.
    Plus the likely successor to Trump would be Pence, who is appalling, or Biden, who is almost certainly guilty of what Trump alleges.

  2. Aortic

    Pete Buttigieg for mine. But he comes across as far too rational and intelligent for the American people to even consider voting for him.

  3. wam

    Saturday comes around so quickly these days, lord, but I love ‘truth’ it is so accurate.
    The xristians know the truth:
    “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
    Pence, like hastie, knows the truth, lives the truth and knows that the bible is the truth. They are comfortable with jonah spending time,inside a whale. The disney film pinnochio showed how it happens..
    They believe their god does everything but accept that he gave us free will so he doesn’t do fires that is the loonies but he saves some property and some people who prayed hard enough.
    I did point out that if we have free will and we affect his creations like cattle, sheep, wheat and aeroplanes and we can destroy his land with mining, his trees with burning and his air and water with pollution .then it seems possible that we could be affecting god’s climate?
    I got the standard answer a ;god bless you, wam but it doesn’t work like that???
    I love the boys’ girls who defer to men through a male god and a male church set up by men for men via a male book with male ideas of life..
    With such deep and unshakeable truth what chance does science based merely on human observation and experimentation have?? I am yet to see how AI fits with god. Robodebt seems to fit the mold????
    A great read and we should be grateful that trump has not finished yet. I am aware millions of Americans approve of trump’s style and unless enough republicans desert him in empeachment, he will get his second term. I am not sure you thought is american it seems closer to to queensland
    ps piping
    trump is preferable toany other candidate so far?

  4. LambsFry Simplex.

    Piping Porkwart says it,
    Trump was the time when WASP America finally cast off once and for all the mask of the concern troll and carelessly revealed its unadorned actual face through the constant presence of politicians like Mitch Connell, Joe Arpaio and the various other populist megaphone psychotics at home while Proxies fought their offshore wars and followed through on their destabilisations of democracies in other countries.

    The US system, like Britain’s and ours was designed by the aristocracies and big bourgeoisie for perceived personal safety.
    But it has grown old and failed and Pence, Pat Robertson etc, leading the children back INTO the feudal desert is the unchallenged meme of today’s times..

  5. Olivia Manor

    We are witnessing the decline and fall of the American Empire

  6. Keitha Granville

    Trump is an abomination, but the world would not survive Pence

  7. Matters Not


    a President is impeached then the Vice President takes his or her place

    Not really. Clinton was impeached but no-one took his place because, as you point out further into the article, the Senate did not convict and in Clinton’s case he continued on and his poll numbers improved. Indeed: his popularity soared to 73 percent.

    Even if convicted and then forced to step down some scholars argue there’s nothing in the Constitution to prevent Trump running for President again. Sure it’s unheard of (no precedent and all that) but what isn’t when it comes to Trump. Creates a new reality – virtually every day.

    Much is still up-in-the-air because even the Articles of Impeachment (the number, the scope etc) are subject to much, on-going speculation. Pelosi, for example, wants a limited number (arguing that the electorate will lose interest and time will beat them – failure via exhaustion). She wants a narrow, focussed set of Articles. Keep the time-line short. Others want to throw-the-book and really finish him. And stuff the time-line. Suspect that Pelosi will win the day. And that might not be the last we hear from Pelosi. Indeed she could finish as President – but that seems unlikely.

    If the Articles of Impeachment are few in number and narrowly focussed on the Ukraine scandal for example, it’s a distinct possibility that Pence himself could also finish under the political bus as the Senate trial unfolds. Perhaps even thrown there by Trump who, while demanding loyalty, never shows it. If that became the reality, then Pelosi as the next in line (under the Constitution) would become the first female President of the USA.

    Now that would make History.

  8. LambsFry Simplex.

    Keitha, your blood is worth bottling

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