A recent long article in the Wall St. Journal painstakingly recounts a sequence of events regarding President Trump and some controversial payments. The article does not go into detail as to how this may affect the president legally or politically, so I was hoping to put the question before Politics.Stackexchange:

Supposing that the article gets the facts right, is the president vulnerable to impeachment and removal? Or in other words: according to this report, has the president done anything that a majority of Senators might convict him for?

  • This question is closely related.
    – user5155
    Nov 9, 2018 at 20:07
  • 1
    The linked article is behind a paywall.
    – jamesqf
    Nov 10, 2018 at 3:32
  • See comments in the answer - the Senate convicting or not has nothing to do with whether charges are brought. Impeachment is the leveling of charges. The language needs to be cleaned up. I'll come back and re-evaluate my -1 later. Nov 12, 2018 at 18:53
  • @PoloHoleSet, question re-worded to accommodate bicameral nature of the process. Nov 12, 2018 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


Impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. As long as the GOP hold a majority in the Senate, the president cannot and will not be impeached. The evidence would have to be overwhelming and it would have to have political consequences to the Republican party's base and the president's base. Short answer: No, it does not make him vulnerable to impeachment.

From Wiki:

At the federal level, Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 of the Constitution grants to the House of Representatives "the sole power of impeachment", and Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 grants to the Senate "the sole Power to try all Impeachments"

In short, even if the process can be started, the majority Republican senate will not impeach the president of their party because partisanship is a guiding factor in today's politics.. it is more important to protect the party, rather than be fair or objective.

Side note: There is even a question of whether a sitting president can even be indicted for a crime. A memo to the Attorney General in 2000, implies that this can't happen...

There are . . . incidental powers, belonging to the executive department, which are necessarily implied from the nature of the functions, which are confided to it. Among these, must necessarily be included the power to perform them, without any obstruction or impediment whatsoever. The president cannot, therefore, be liable to arrest, imprisonment, or detention, while he is in the discharge of the duties of his office ....

Bolding was me.

The point here, is impeachment is difficult when the ruling party controls half the process and has absolutely no intention of following through, even if the president committed a crime, which he also might have immunity to as well due to the responsibilities of the President.

UPDATE: Partisanship The current political culture is extremely partisan. Just to set the tone here. American political culture is at a point where reality has come into question. When it comes to Democrats and Republics, they literally cannot agree on basic facts. This comes is from a long history of deeply partisan politics. Whether it's the economy or a simple state of the union. The best evidence of this was the breaking of norms on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee. Mitch McConnel literally refused to bring to the senate.

To continue, the Republican party was extraordinarily partisan in blocking the nomination.


"I can now confidently say the view shared by virtually everybody in my conference, is that the nomination should be made by the president the people elect in the election that's underway right now,"

Further bolstering McConnell's decision was a Tuesday announcement by all 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that the panel would not move forward with any consideration of Obama's nominee.

The very unique precedence:

Despite the stolen Supreme Court seats of the mid-1800s, says Geyh, the modern Senate’s outright declaration that no Obama nominee would get a hearing or vote in 2016 still violated the Senate’s norms. None of the tabled nominees of the 1800s were federal judges like Garland, whose qualifications the Senate endorsed in 1997 by confirming him for his appeals court seat, 76-23. “You’ve got a consensus choice,” says Geyh, “which makes it all the more bald-faced that the Senate would do as it did.”

Extreme partisanship and violation of norms. It's clear that any push for impeachment would be made with more violation of norms and more partisanship. All the evidence supports the position.

Update: Polarization: I'm putting in a section about polarization to give context to my response because it's important.

Polarization is gridlock and assuming that an environment is more polarized, then it is more gridlocked.

As I explore in Stalemate, the frequency of legislative deadlock increases as the parties polarize. Over the postwar period, congressional performance runs closely in tandem with the size and strength of the political center. As the figure below suggests, as legislative “moderation” declines, Congress and the president more frequently deadlock over the salient issues of the day.

The folks at the Brookings Institute concluded:

Increasing political polarization in recent decades has made it much more difficult for the U.S. government to work effectively. According to a multiyear cooperative study by the Brookings and Hoover Institutions, political elites are now more sharply divided than are citizens, and the latter are more likely to place themselves at the ends rather than in the middle of the ideological spectrum than they were as recently as the 1980s. Having a smaller political center to work with, even leaders committed to bipartisan compromise have found such agreement harder to come by.

Ii bi-partisan compromise is harder to come by, then it would naturally follow that an impeachment from one party, regardless of which party it is; would likely meet with obstruction at the next step by the opposing party. So in the current context, a Democratic House and a Republican Senate. It is likely that anything the house does will be blocked by the senate and this is a product of polarization, not specific parties.

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    @elliotsvensson Is right. Bill Clinton was impeached by the House, he just wasn't convicted.
    – user5155
    Nov 9, 2018 at 20:13
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    Yes, the House has sole power to impeach, per article one. Once impeached, there is an impeachment trial by the Senate, but that determines the consequences of impeachment, not whether an official is impeached or not.
    – De Novo
    Nov 9, 2018 at 20:15
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    I've down voted this question because of the supposition that the GOP would act according to partisan loyalty over holding the president accountable in a well founded impeachment process. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This answer assumes the inner working of the entire GOP is monolithic. Nov 9, 2018 at 21:33
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    You're suggesting there is equivalence between a conservative Senate not processing the nomination of a liberal judge, and the same Senate not processing well founded impeachment proceedings from the house? What if the violated norm is nominating a justice during the last year of a presidency? Nov 12, 2018 at 13:08
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    One thing I think you should clarify: If Trump was an electoral liability for the GOP, I think they would vote to remove him from office. That is, if GOP senators thought it would be good for their re-election chances (and their chances of retaking the House), then I think they would vote to remove him. However, that is very far from the case given the midterm results, so I think the GOP will stand by him come hell or high water.
    – Thomas
    Nov 12, 2018 at 18:28

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