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What happens if it is proven that President Trump has been colluding with Russia during his campaign? Does he go to trial or get impeached? Or does nothing happen?

  • It should be noted that, in the USA, colluding is not a legal term and carries no weight. The term used by the hearing committee today was co-ordination. Something I learned myself for the first time watching the live stream of Comey. – Venture2099 Mar 20 '17 at 21:17
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    What does it mean to be colluding with Russia? And how would it be any different than what has been tolerated as business-as-usual for everyone else, e.g. the Clinton Foundation's many suspicious ties? – J Doe May 12 '17 at 18:09
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    @JDoe well, the difference would be the "if it's proven" part of the question. While plenty of suspicion was manufactured around the Clinton Foundation, nothing was ever shown to be handled inappropriately. That may happen with Trump. Then again, maybe not (and it seems like information is changing hourly on this particular topic...) – user1530 May 17 '17 at 17:10
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    @JDoe actually, no, we don't know that favors were traded. What investigations that were done showed no conflict of interest. As for Trump and Russia, I have no idea what actually has happened. None of us do. At least, not yet. – user1530 May 17 '17 at 18:41
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    @JDoe "What does it mean to be colluding with Russia? And how would it be any different than what has been tolerated as business-as-usual for everyone else, e.g. the Clinton Foundation's many suspicious ties?" That's funny. I wasn't sure if you were a troll. Tell me what the Clinton foundation did that was worth investigating for collusion. We know that Russia hacked the election by social media the day(s) prior and hacking and releasing democratic party e-mails. There were meetings with team Trump and Russians who may have arranged that. Where is the Clinton equivalent to that? – userLTK May 24 '18 at 6:44
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Only the House of Representatives (sometimes called the Lower House) can impeach a President. The House Judiciary Committee holds hearings and, if necessary, prepares articles of impeachment. If a majority of the committee votes to approve the articles, the whole House debates and votes on them.

The House is pretty much free to decide what constitutes an impeachable offense ("treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" is the formal list in our Constitution). They may choose to or not. A majority ( > 50%) vote of the House is required to Impeach.

Impeachment is equivalent to bringing charges. Removal from office requires a trial in the Senate (sometimes called the Upper House), presided over by the Chief Justice. If 2/3 of the Senators vote for Impeachment, the President is removed from office and the Vice President takes his place.

If the House declined to impeach Trump, nothing would happen...

  • Can you expand this to make it clear how the Lower House move to impeach but the trial takes place in the Upper house. – Venture2099 Mar 20 '17 at 21:19
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    Because the US is so polarized politically, there is very little chance that a Republican controlled House of Representatives would choose to impeach a Republican President even if there were overwhelming evidence that he had accepted a direct bribe from the Russian government (such as, for hypothetical example, a 19% interest in the Russian gas company Rosneft) in return for promulgating policies favorable to the Russians, let alone confirmation of the allegations that his Presidential campaign had coordinated election strategy and tactics with the Russians. – arp Mar 28 '17 at 4:01
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    @arp - I'm not actually sure that's true. It would certainly make it less likely, but at some point there could be enough of an outcry that they may decide that it's better to cut their losses and give the population what it (presumably) wants, while promoting the Republican VP to President. – Bobson May 12 '17 at 18:46
  • @Venture2099 the Lower House (as a whole) doesn't "move to" impeach, any more than it "moves to" pass a bill. Individual House members "move to impeach", but the House as a whole only impeaches (or not). – David Dec 14 '18 at 20:02
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There's nothing illegal by itself about coordinating with a foreign entity. You can coordinate with anyone you want. Now, if you can prove Trump knew/directed that

  1. The Russians had hacked the DNC and John Podesta's email
  2. Were timing the release of some of the more salacious details to cause maximum political damage
  3. The Trump Administration is somehow proving benefits to Russia in a quid-pro-quo relationship

That would be enough to topple a President. General sentiment would turn easily, and you could Impeach him readily (remember, Impeachment is largely a political process, not so much a legal one).

The problem is you must prove Trump knew all of this and was involved in some way. What sank Nixon in similar circumstances were the Watergate tapes proving he had direct knowledge of illegal activity. Barring something similar to connect the dots, it seems more likely that you could find someone in the Trump campaign who was involved. In that case, the person who was caught would likely face some sort of charges, while the White House would simply deny knowledge and assert that person had acted on their own.

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    I don't know that one must prove anything. Congress has the discretion to impeach based on their own opinion of what "high crime or misdemeanors" may be. So it's not so much that something must be proven, but rather congress needs the will and convincing to do so if it's to be done. – user1530 Mar 21 '17 at 3:35
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    @blip True, but it's not Congress that needs convincing. You need enough evidence to convince the American people (who have never removed a sitting President) that the current guy needs to go. No matter who is in office, that's a pretty high bar to clear. Without some clear way to tie Trump to actual wrongdoing, I just don't see that happening to move the political will enough to do it. As Republicans proved in 1996, Impeachment is easy but removal is hard. As the political tide had not turned against Clinton, Republicans suffered backlash – Machavity Mar 21 '17 at 3:41
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    "There's nothing illegal about coordinating with a foreign entity." Nonsense. Absolute nonsense. – Venture2099 Mar 21 '17 at 14:55
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    No. Context is important. The reverse of the blanket statement is "are you saying ALL coordination is legal under US Law?" If so we can just disband our counter intelligence apparatus. – Venture2099 Mar 22 '17 at 7:36
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    @Venture2099 I think you've misread what I've said. Coordinating, by itself, isn't illegal. Coordinating to perform a clearly criminal act is. So if Trump talked to Putin and asked for general help winning the election, it's quite different from Trump asking Putin to help dig up dirt and/or hacking emails to help him win. The former looks bad and would be scandalous but not rise to the level of removal. The latter would turn public opinion against Trump and possibly get him removed. – Machavity Mar 22 '17 at 12:20
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I would think that coordinating with Russia to win the Presidency had to have come with a price. Trump had to have had direct knowledge of this and to have agreed to the aforementioned price. Let's face it, at a minimum these were nefarious deeds. To "coordinate" with a foreign power, if not an enemy, must be illegal. Simply impeaching and removing Trump is insufficient. If that is all we do then Pence moves right into the Presidency and keeps on benefiting from the same practices in which he no doubt took part. Neither Trump nor Pence should benefit and both should be punished.

  • This is veering from the process question.. However, If the President is Impeached and the Vice President takes his place he too may be impeached. Same process. Also same for any civil officer of government (judges, legislators, etc.) It's turtles all the way down... – BobT May 12 '17 at 18:13

protected by Community May 17 '17 at 6:51

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