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?

  • 1
    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. Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 21:17
  • Black's Law Dictionary defines collusion as "A deceitful agreement or compact between two or more persons, for the one party to bring an action against the other for some evil purpose". I'm surprised that it's not a formal legal term...
    – BobT
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 21:29
  • I am only repeating what the hearing said. Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 22:17

2 Answers 2


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. Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 21:19
  • 7
    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
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 4:01
  • 16
    @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
    Commented May 12, 2017 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
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 20:02
  • @arp oddly the President recently sanctioned Rosneft. Maybe playing the long con. Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 20:36

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.

  • 6
    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
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 3:35
  • 2
    @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
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 3:41
  • 1
    "There's nothing illegal about coordinating with a foreign entity." Nonsense. Absolute nonsense. Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 14:55
  • 1
    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. Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 7:36
  • 5
    @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
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 12:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .