Local political expert clarifies impeachment proceedings; where do we go from here?

The second open House impeachment hearing is over. Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified for about five hours Friday, telling investigators she was given no reason for her sudden dismissal after 33 years of service.

The House Intelligence Committee will hear from eight more impeachment witnesses next week. One local political expert said many people are confused about what impeachment actually means.

There has already been testimony behind closed doors. Local political expert Joe Heim said this public testimony is mainly for the public and media to hear firsthand.

“The idea is that you can let the public watch this stuff and let them decide for themselves if they think this is impeachable,” Heim said.

The U.S. Constitution allows the House to impeach the president under Article 2 Section 4, if evidence shows the president did something relating to “treason” and “bribery” or other “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” But, the line appears to be gray on what a high crime is.

“Democrats seem to be relatively satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a ‘high crime,'” Heim said. “The Republicans obviously don’t agree with that.”

The House needs a simple majority of its 435 voting members to impeach the president. The House is controlled by Democrats and it is likely they will move to impeach the president, but that doesn’t mean President Donald Trump will be removed from office. In fact, that has never been done in U.S. history.

“Essentially, articles of impeachment are versions of charges,” Heim said. “The House indicts and the jury is essentially the U.S. Senate.”

Former Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached but were not removed from office.

“The president of the United States put his hand on a Bible and said he did not have sex with Monica Lewinsky,” Heim said. “Is it a crime? Yes, it is. Is it a high crime? The House said, ‘yes.’ The Senate said, ‘No.'”

The Senate is controlled by Republicans and most stand by the president and it’s unlikely the Senate will get the two-thirds vote needed to remove the president.

Heim said the evidence that is presented in these hearings won’t likely change the minds of Democrats in the House or Republicans in the Senate.

“This is a good reflection of the polarization of the country,” he said.

Congress will take a break from hearings for the weekend. It plans to begin again on Tuesday, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert for the National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, are expected to testify.

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