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What Happens If Trump Is Impeached For Russia Investigation

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For months, the subject of possible collusion between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia has prompted many to talk about the probability of an impeachment.

Former FBI Director James Comey's testimony on Thursday morning is likely to make the subject of an impeachment even more relevant.

Comey's testimony is expected to help answer two questions. First, how, exactly, did President Trump allegedly seek to influence the FBI's investigation into possible links between his campaign and Russia?

Second, did the president's alleged actions amount to an impeachable offense?

Depending on what Comey tells the Senate Intelligence Committee, the answer, for a significant number of politicians, may very well be yes.

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As we've written about here, the series of events that would occur between Comey's testimony and a possible vote on impeachment is complicated.

We've also talked about what would happen if, in such a scenario, the House of Representatives proceeded to vote in favor of impeachment.

Now, in lieu of Comey's testimony, a curious mind might go even further: What would happen if such an impeachment actually led to Trump being found guilty by the Senate?

Well, unlike the actual process of impeachment, the answer there is a bit more straightforward. Here's what would happen next.

Immediate removal.

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If Trump were to face a guilty verdict in a trial before the Senate, for any number of charges, he would be stripped of his title as president.

Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached but acquitted in the Senate, so they were not removed. Richard Nixon resigned as the impeachment process was going on. So if Trump were to be impeached and have it stick, he'd become the first commander-in-chief to be removed from office.

No jail.

Regardless of what charge a president could be found guilty of during an impeachment case, the verdict would not subject the president to incarceration.

The penalty for such a verdict can only go as far as losing the office of president, as the United States Constitution states,

Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.

In this case, a former president couldn't be sentenced to a prison term via an impeachment trial verdict.

However, the Constitution does make clear that, in a separate trial, the president may be tried for charges similar to those he faced during impeachment.

President Mike Pence.

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Vice President Pence would then take the step up and become president of the United States, unless he were to be impeached as well.

In that case, the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan would assume the presidency.

However, a scenario in which Pence would be impeached in tandem with Trump is even more unlikely than the already slim chances that Trump would be impeached himself.

Nomination of a Vice President.

With the vice president's role now vacant, President Pence would have to nominate someone to fill his former role.

That nominee would then have to go through confirmation hearings before the Senate, much like cabinet members such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had to.

Pending confirmation, we would have a new vice president.