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President of the United States (POTUS) Donald Trump is the subject of an impeachment inquiry. Many people think that the word ‘impeach’ means ‘to remove from office’, as you can see in the photos of protesters with signs. This is not correct. It can lead to removal from office, but the impeachment in itself is not the reason.
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The American government has three branches: the Legislative Branch, which makes laws (Congress, which comprises the House of Representatives and the Senate) ;the Judicial Branch, which evaluates laws (the Supreme Court, it ‘represents’ and upholds the US Constitution) and the Executive Branch, which carries out laws (comprised of POTUS, the vice president, the cabinet and other federal agencies), This system was put in place so that no one branch can have too much power. This is called a system of checks and balances.
Presidential impeachment is carried out by the Legislative Branch and starts with the House of Representatives. If a US representative thinks that POTUS has engaged in illegal activities, he or she can ask for an impeachment inquiry by presenting a list of the alleged crimes while under oath. A committee decides first if there are grounds for impeachment proceedings. If they do think there is enough evidence, they will agree on a list of articles listing each alleged crime. Then, all 435 members of the House of Representatives hear the articles and each representative votes on each article. If there is a simple majority for each article and the complete resolution, the president has been ‘impeached’ – but not removed from office.
If an impeachment vote passes, the House notifies the Senate (100 members, 2 from each state). The Senate then holds a criminal trial. At the end of the trial, the Senate makes its decision. This decision requires a ‘super-majority’ (2/3, in this case, 75 senators). This decision is crucial, because if the Senate votes to convict, the president will be removed from office immediately.
Conviction and removal of a president has never happened. In fact, only two presidents (of 45) have ever been impeached: Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, who were both acquitted by the Senate and thus remained in office. President Richard Nixon resigned before his impeachment inquiry started.
If Trump is removed from office, Vice President Mike Pence would become president. That being said, it is very unlikely that the impeachment of Donald Trump would result in removal from office. There are two reasons why: the Republican Party (which Trump is a member of) has a majority in the Senate and because many Americans fear that Vice President Mike Pence would be an even worse president than Trump! Stay tuned…
inquiry= une enquête
to mean = (ici) vouloir dire
to remove = (ici) démettre de
protester = un(e) manifestant(e)
sign = une pancarte
lead = (ici) finir par
in itself = en lui-même
law = une loi
to uphold = maintenir
to carry out = pratiquer
to put in place = mettre en place
checks and balances = des pouvoirs et contrepouvoirs
alleged = poursuivi
under oath = sous serment
proceeding = un procès
to agree = se mettre d’accord
each = chaque
to notify = (ici) signaler
to hold a trial = avoir un procès
to convict = reconnaître coupable
thus = ainsi
to resign = démissioner
that being said = ceci dit
to fear = craindre
even worse = même pire
stay tuned… = à suivre…
Photo de la couverture : © Heidi Besen / Shutterstock.com