With the balance of power in Congress presently tipped towards Republicans, the prospect of impeaching President Donald Trump is not one worth talking about, at least not yet. That could change, though, after November, particularly if Democrats land major wins in the midterm elections. If they do, some voters are bound to wonder: If Trump is impeached, would he go to jail?
It only takes a good look at the political climate to understand why people would pose that question. Multiple polls over the course of Trump's year-plus in Congress have indicated that 40 percent of voters would support impeaching Trump. That support is no-doubt fueled by the idea that Trump has done something (anything) criminal, whether it be through his businesses or during his presidential campaign. A Washington Post/ABC News poll from November found that 49 percent of Americans think Trump committed a crime.
Finally, consider what would happen if Democrats win enough elections to claim the majority in the House of Representatives (never mind the prospect of winning the House and Senate). Such a win would likely mean House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reclaiming the gavel, becoming Speaker of the House again, instead of current Speaker Paul Ryan's successor (remember, Ryan is retiring). If that happens, Pelosi could be welcoming a whole bunch of newly-elected Democrats who owe their seats to voters who were energized by antipathy to Trump.
All the sudden, the idea of impeachment within the Democratic party might seem less farfetched than otherwise — just like how the idea of an Obamacare repeal was touted time and time again as Republicans gained more seats during the Obama era. California Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat would likely become the head of the House Intelligence Committee — replacing his Republican counterpart Devin Nunes — and thus be in an even stronger position to shape public opinion about what intelligence agencies have discovered about Trump's presidential campaign via-a-vis the Russia investigation.
Long story short, the conditions would be there for impeachment to become a trending topic of sorts in the public discourse.
So now, back to the original question: what would happen if Trump got impeached? He would absolutely, most definitely, not be going to jail. That goes for any circumstance surrounding an impeachment, regardless of the charges made against him.
That's because the chargers brought against Trump wouldn't be made in some court of law where the president would face a jury of his peers. No, the impeachment process only means the president would face a jury made up of the members in the Senate, and their verdict would only have implications for Trump's place in office.
As article two, section four of the U.S. Constitution states, "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."
Removal from office is the only consequence specified.
Even if impeachment becomes a realistic possibility for Democrats, all signs indicate that they shouldn't pursue the option, anyway. On Wednesday, April 18, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker intimated as much. He said, per the Washington Free Beacon,
Yeah, look, I think that we undermine our position as Democrats if we are reaching out now for impeachment, which is just going to whip up more of the political divisions, the political debates. I'll take criticism for that, but it's OK. We need to have sober minds, fact-based conclusions, conclusions drawn from evidence as presented.
And while polls over the course of 2017 suggested there was more support for impeaching a president than usual, more recent polls indicate that Democrats would attract more opposition from voters, not less, if they indicated that pursuit of impeachment was a priority.
The bottom-line? Trump would not land in jail as a consequence of impeachment, and even planning to impeach him might hurt the president's opposing party.