What Is Impeachment?

American justice
This photo shows the scales of justice. They stand for fairness and good decisions. Lawmakers try to make good decisions about our country.

In September, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, started an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump. An impeachment inquiry investigates if the president committed a crime. It’s a process that might lead to the President being impeached, convicted, and removed from office.

The Constitution of the United States explains how impeachment works. The U.S. House of Representatives has the power to impeach, or bring charges, against an elected official. Impeachment is for very serious crimes, such as treason [doing something wrong against your own country] or bribery [giving someone a gift to make them do something you want]. The House of Representatives examines evidence. If they find enough evidence of crime, they can decide to impeach.

The U.S. Senate has the next step. They hold a trial. The Chief Justice of the United States leads the trial. The Senate must vote on whether or not to convict [say that someone is guilty of a crime] the President. If two-thirds vote to convict, the President is removed from office. A person who is convicted in an impeachment cannot hold another elected office in the United States.

Only three other Presidents have been impeached. None of them were removed from office. One of them, Richard Nixon, quit the Presidency.

The writers of the Constitution wanted the process to be fair. That’s why impeachment includes the House, the Senate, and a judge.

What Do You Think? A friend asks, “What is impeachment?” How will you explain it?

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