15

Last year's impeachment proceedings were a relatively drawn out process, playing out over a month and a half, and it resulted in an impeachment without removal from office. That is similar to the length of time taken for Clinton's impeachment/non-removal. Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon's impeachments took several months. But what's the fastest it's possible to go through the process?

Ideally, I'd like the answer for two scenarios: What if a large majority of each chamber (including party leaders) wants to impeach and remove, but there are a few Representatives and Senators who object, and what if it's unanimous? Is it even possible to impeach by unanimous consent, or is a full vote required?

3
  • 1
    I've previously asked specifically how quickly the Senate could dismiss impeachment proceedings and the general gist of the answers was: as quick as they want, there's little formal guidance. – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Jan 6 at 21:22
  • In practical terms, what would be the point in the current situation? Once the current POTUS is out of office, he is subject to the same legal procedures as any other citizen, and there is a list of outstanding investigations and allegations awaiting their days in court. – alephzero Jan 7 at 2:50
  • 5
    @alephzero - In the current situation, it'd still be a huge rebuke and repudiation of Trump if he were impeached and removed in the last few weeks. It could also make him ineligible to run for President again, if he's removed and barred from holding office in the future, which also happens to open the field up for 2024 Republican candidates who won't have to compete with him. It'd also potentially keep him from making things worse in the next two weeks. Is it worth it? That's a very different question. – Bobson Jan 7 at 2:59
7

There is no set minimum time. The required steps are:

  • Articles of Impeachment must be drafted. This could be done within a few hours or perhaps even less by a good legal writer.

  • The House must bring the articles to a floor vote. Normally they go through a committee process, but they could go straight to a vote if the speaker sees fit and is not overruled from the floor.

  • The House must vote to accept them. A roll-call vote takes a number of minutes, but can be done in less than an hour, I understand. Or a voice vote could be used, particularly if there is no objection.

  • The articles must be sent to the Senate. This need take only minutes.

  • The Senate must decide to take the articles up. I believe that any Senator can request consideration of an urgent matter, if the person currently holding the floor and the presiding officer agree. Having gotten the floor, a Senator could move immediate consideration of the articles. A voice vote could agree to suspend normal business and take them up.

  • The Chief Justice must come to the Senate and take the Chair.

*Senators must be put on oath.

  • The articles must be read aloud. I am not sure if this is essential, but it is usual and need not take long if they are short.

  • The Senate must do whatever debate it thinks needed, close debate, and proceed to a floor vote on the articles. This could take as much or as little time as the Senate chooses. If all or most Senators think no debate is needed, it could be done in a very short time.

  • The Senate must vote to convict or not. I think a roll-call vote is required here, but again this would take less than an hour.

The whole process could be done in 24 hours or less if an overwhelming majority of both the House and the Senate wanted it to. But without that wide agreement on not just the need to proceed but the need to do so very fast, it would not be done with such speed.

4
  • Are you certain that Presidential impeachment trials in the Senate can be run without the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? – Joel Harmon Jan 10 at 1:15
  • 1
    @Jorl Where did I say "without the CJ"? – David Siegel Jan 10 at 1:25
  • You would need to get the CJ, and there is the process of swearing in all the senators. Which would take some hours – James K Jan 10 at 1:28
  • 1
    You missed the Chief Justice by omission. Article 1 section 3 says "When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside", and thus any answer omitting that is incomplete. – Joel Harmon Jan 10 at 1:36

You must log in to answer this question.

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