VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Donald Trump on Wednesday became only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.
But a day later, there seems to be some confusion over what that means and what’s next. While some have been celebrating on social media as if Trump’s being removed from office, impeachment does not mean he’s moving out of the White House.
To explain, Ryan Hurl, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto Scarborough, says you can think of impeachment as charges being laid and the U.S. House of Representatives — which voted to impeach Trump — as the prosecution.
“Just as prosecutors have to assemble evidence, that’s what the House has been doing,” he tells NEWS 1130. “They’ve been assembling evidence, as any prosecutors would. They’ve decided there’s sufficient evidence, essentially to level charges, and that’s what the vote was last night. They’re just levelling charges against the president.”
That means Trump is now going to trial and the U.S. Senate will act as the court, deciding whether or not he will be removed from office.
“Essentially, it’s like an accusation that is now moving to the trial stage,” Hurl adds. “And there will be a trial for this crime, or based on the accusation of a crime. A trial in the Senate and it’s only if two-thirds of the Senators agree that the president is guilty of those charges that he’s removed from office.”
The charges Trump is facing are abuse of power, for a phone call where he appears to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, in exchange for military aid, and obstruction of Congress, for allegedly trying to thwart an investigation into that phone call.
The trial is set to be at the Republican-controlled Senate early next year, as soon as the week of Jan. 6, if the Democrat-controlled House sends the impeachment articles.
But since the Republicans have a majority, it’s widely expected Trump will be acquitted and not removed from office.
“Almost go beyond unlikely [for Trump to be removed from office],” says Hurl. “It would be astounding if that were to happen.”