Economics Index and Qualifications
By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics
Former Instructor St. John's University, New York City

Will Trump be Impeached, and Then What?

With Trump being investigated and the Democrats now the majority in the House many people are wondering if Trump might be impeached and if so then what happens.

Step One-Impeach Trump

A majority of the House of Representatives is required to impeach and the Democrats have that majority so they could impeach Trump.

Step Two-Convict and Remove Trump

But Trump would still be president, impeachment would simply mean that he had to be tried by the Senate, and in the Senate a two thirds vote is required to convict Trump and remove him from office. The Republicans have retained their majority in the Senate so a third of the Republican Senators would have to vote for conviction to remove Trump.

It is perhaps conceivable that the Republicans would decide that Trump was political poison and join with the Democrats in convicting and removing him from office. History makes this seem unlikely. While two presidents have been impeached, no president has ever been convicted and removed from office. But the Republicans did turn against Nixon and he resigned because the Republicans told him they would join in convicting him, and Johnson, Lincoln's vice president, who replaced Lincoln after he was assassinated, was almost convicted. Johnson was tried on three charges so there were three votes to convict, all of which fell just one vote short of conviction.

Step 3-Impeach Pence

If Trump was removed from office, Vice President Pence would become president. Maxine Waters has said that Pence would be impeached too. Given the record of Pence as an honest man this might seem very political, but if you search hard enough you can come up with a case against anyone. As the Democrats have a majority of the House they could do this. Still some of the Democrats in the House might be reluctant to do this, because in impeaching Pence they would be setting up the rules upon which they themselves might be judged. Many politicians would think, if a straight arrow like Pence is guilty then all of us are guilty.

Step 4-Convict and Remove Pence

But impeaching Pence would do little, to remove him from office you would have to get two thirds of the Senate to vote to convict. The Republicans still have their majority and they only need one third of the Senate to block conviction. So once again a little more than a third of the Republicans have to turn on Pence, and make the Democratic speaker of the House, presumably Nancy Pelosi, President. This looks close to impossible.

Furthermore, if the Democrats wanted Nancy Pelosi to be president they would have to block Pence's nomination of a new vice president. As Pence would need the majority of both the House and the Senate to confirm his new vice president the Democrats could block his nomination in the House. Still this would look political.

If all this happened then the Democrats would get perhaps a year of Nancy Pelosi. With a Republican majority in the Senate this would not buy them much.

Do the Democrats Want to Get Rid of Trump?

On the other hand the Democrats probably figure that Trump will be a weak candidate for president in 2020, it is not clear they would want to get rid of him. Pence could be a stronger candidate for the Republicans and as argued above removing him would be difficult.

So the present conflict is probably not about removing Trump from office, it is about generating bad press for Trump. All things considered that seems a bit unnecessary. He generates enough bad press himself, without anyone's help.


How will the 3rd world develop? This popular web page lays out the growth path.

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Last updated November 15, 2018

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