How Many Congresspeople It Takes To Impeach A President
Over the past couple of weeks, multiple congressmen in Washington D.C. have begun publicly raising the idea of impeaching Donald Trump.
Last Wednesday, for example, Rep. Al Green of Texas, formally called for the impeachment of Trump before his colleagues on the floor of the House of Representatives.
In another case, Rep. Ted Lieu of California sent out a tweet last Friday night indicating that he was studying up on the procedures required to remove the president from office.
As different leaders on Capitol Hill begin mentioned the I-word, there's a question that has now become pertinent: Just how many members of congress does it take to impeach a president?
The answer? It depends on which of three key parts of the impeachment process we're talking. Here's what that means.
The Articles of Impeachment: 21
A successful impeachment works like a trial that occurs in the Senate. Before that trial could even begin, the articles of impeachment outline the charges that would be brought against the president in that trial.
So, to begin the impeachment process, a specific group of members among the 435 representatives in the House -- the House Judiciary Committee -- vote over the articles of impeachment.
Once the articles of impeachment are drafted, the 40 members on the House Judiciary Committee voted over whether bring them to the full House of Representatives.
A simple majority vote is needed, in this case, which means 21 congresspeople voting yay are needed in this phase.
House Vote: 218
Once the articles make it out of the judiciary committee, the 435 members of the House of Representatives debate the merits of the articles of impeachment.
In this phase, a simple majority is needed again to continue the impeachment process, which means 218 representatives would have to vote yay in order to confirm impeachment.
Senate trial: 67
By the time the process brings the president before the Senate in order to defend himself, the "impeachment" part is done.
What occurs then is a procedure that would see the president prosecuted by a group of "managers" from the House of Representatives, while a Supreme Court justice presides over the trial.
The senate, ultimately, acts as the jury. In order for the president to be removed from office, in this case, it would require a two-thirds vote among the 100 senators.
The most obvious complication in this game of numbers is party allegiances.
Al Green in Ted Lieu are Democrats, but there are only 17 Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, 193 in the House, and 48 in the Senate.
That means any impeachment attempt would require four Republicans on the judiciary committee to agree with Democrats, and 25 Republicans, then 19 GOP members to do the same during the following two phases.
And that's assuming that every Democrat would be in favor of impeachment in the first place.
The way things stand now, such a scenario is highly unlikely, but don't be surprised if some Dems dangle the carrot of impeachment in order to win more seats in Congress during the 2018 mid-term elections.