Can Members Of Congress Be Impeached? It's Never Been Done
Over the past few weeks, the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump has been top of mind. As Congress continues their investigation into the president's conduct and whether or not he committed any wrongdoing, some of you might be wondering: can members of Congress be impeached? It's never been done before.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Sept. 24 that she would launch an official impeachment inquiry into Trump, but the president dismissed the inquiry as "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT" in a tweet, and even stated via Twitter on Oct. 6 that Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff of California should be impeached instead.
Despite Trump's statement, senior Politifact correspondent Jon Greenberg wrote in an Oct. 7 article that in over 200 years, impeaching a member of Congress has never been done. However, that isn't to say efforts haven't been made in the past. According to Greenberg, the only time Congress considered impeaching a member was in 1797 concerning Sen. William Blout of Tennessee. Blout was accused of scheming to increase his personal finances, an ethics violation, when he apparently tried to get Native American tribes to attack land owned by Spain to transfer it to Great Britain. This led to Congress considering impeachment as well as Congress expelling the senator. Initially, the House voted to impeach Blout, but Blout's lawyer argued that Section 4, Article 2 of the Constitution says, "The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors," and Blout didn't qualify as a "civil officer." Plus, he was already expelled from his job. In the end, the case was dismissed.
It's unclear whether Trump's comment about impeaching members of Congress was a distraction tactic or a genuine opinion, but apparently, it's difficult to do. And the impeachment inquiry into President Trump isn't slowing down whatsoever. On Thursday, Oct. 31, the House of Representatives voted to move forward with the impeachment inquiry despite a number of GOP members' objections, such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California. Naturally, the president chimed in with his opinion on the matter just moments after the vote, calling it a "witch hunt," which is fitting considering the vote fell on Halloween.
The vote marked yet another step in the impeachment process. So what happens next, you may ask? Well first of all, the vote on Oct. 31 was not a vote to impeach the president. Instead, it was simply a vote that guaranteed that the impeachment process would move forward. The vote was required to hold public hearings on the House floor — from there, the House will work to secure the first official vote towards impeaching Donald Trump. There are quite a few more steps before the House officially votes, and even then, Trump won't be removed from office right away. Instead, the Senate will need to chime in on the matter as well and vote on whether Trump will be removed from office. In other words, don't get too comfortable.