Impeachment of the president, explained – Updated by Andrew Prokop May 16, 2017, 8:40am EDT


The history and logistics of trying and removing the president from office.

President Donald Trump has done some things — from firing of FBI Director James Comeyto leaking classified information to Russian officials during a White House meeting — that are starting to make his critics question his fitness for office. Not even four months into Trump’s term, some are already starting to chatter about impeachment, the process by which a president can be charged with “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and removed from office if he is convicted of those charges.

For the moment, this chatter is just that. It’s quite difficult to impeach, convict, and remove a president from office — so much so that’s it’s never happened in US history. (Two presidents have been impeached but acquitted; another resigned to avoid near-certain impeachment.) So far, we are not even remotely close to this politically charged process getting started for Trump, let alone actually happening.

But if you’re interested in understanding how impeachment works, the important thing to know is that while it looks and feels a whole lot like a legal or judicial process, in practice it is dominated by politics from start to finish.

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