For the first time, a majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives support voting to impeach President Donald Trump.
What happened now?
An estimated 118 of the 235 voting Democratic members in the House have come out in support of impeachment. Some of the latest Democrats to switch to Team Impeach include Reps. Jason Crow (Colo.), Mike Levin (Calif.), Chris Pappas (N.H.), and Jennifer Wexton (Va.).
A growing and vocal contingent of House Democrats has consistently called for impeachment. During a speech to the NAACP on July 22, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) promised, “I’m not going nowhere, not until I impeach this president.”
It’s important to note that while 118 is a majority of Democrats, and Democrats have a majority of the seats in the House, it is not a majority of the 435 total House seats (not including non-voting members from U.S. territories). Only a simple majority is needed for impeachment, but that would still involve 218 members — or 100 more than the current number — voting to impeach.
But what about Pelosi?
The most powerful Democrat in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), has long argued against impeachment — not because she respects Trump’s presidency, but because she sees it as potentially politically damaging to Democrats. It’s possible that as more Democrats voice their support for impeachment Pelosi will change her position, but she has given no indication of this so far.
And early attempts at impeachment have seemed to confirm her qualms. On July 16, Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) filed articles of impeachment against Pelosi’s wishes. By July 17, they had been voted down by a margin of 332 to 95.
Could they impeach him?
A president can only be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” but these last two are legally vague terms. Because of this, it could be possible for a majority in the House to impeach a president they dislike on a dubious application of these terms.
However, this would set a dangerous precedent, since then the House could theoretically impeach the president any time it was controlled by the opposing party.
If the House were to impeach Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate would still get to decide whether or not he needed to be removed from office. And, unlike in the House, two-thirds of senators need to vote to convict the president. To date, only two presidents have successfully been impeached by the House: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Neither of them were removed from office.