Tuesday’s announcement marks the fourth time in U.S. history that a formal impeachment process has taken place against a sitting U.S. President.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the House will vote on articles of impeachment or that the president will be removed from office.
Impeachment is a formal process by which the House of Representatives can by a majority vote, impeach a sitting president for treason, bribery, misdemeanors or other high crimes. If the House majority votes to impeach the president, he’s impeached but not removed from office.
The impeachment referral then goes to the Senate, which acts as a jury.
Right now, the House is a Democrat majority and the Senate is controlled by Republicans.
If at least two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed and the vice president takes over as president. There is no appeal.
“I think a lot of people equate impeachment with removal from office and in reality, they’re distinct,” said Attorney John Thyne III, Law Offices of John J. Thyne III.
Instead, Santa Barbara Attorney John Thyne says impeachment is more like an indictment.
“Indictments don’t always result in convictions. The articles of impeachment nearly refers the matter to the Senate who then works as a jury and will determine whether or not to remove the president from office,” said Thyne.
Thyne says there’s really no precedent for an impeachment inquiry but he speculates that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s intent was to formalize the process to give the house more subpoena power.
“It just so happens these things tend to happen around election years and we tend to see political influences in the process,” said Thyne.
Some voters say it’s too little too late.
“He’s done a lot of things in the last three years and if he were going to get impeached it would have happened by now so I think it’s more of a gimmick than anything,” said Bunsee Patel of Isla Vista.
While some immigrants say they don’t know what to believe.
“It’s real when you live here. When you’re outside of the country it’s like a reality TV show. It’s not, I don’t know what to think about it,” said Veronique Letourneau of Canada.
News of the formal inquiry sent shockwaves across both sides of the aisle from Capitol Hill to State Street.
“I think it’s a great idea, it’s overdue, it’s better than nothing,” said Sandy Pantoj of Isla Vista.
“I don’t think he deserves to be impeached. I feel that he says everything that us Americans are thinking but are afraid to say,” said Kris Schluter of Atlanta.
“There’s a lot of presidents who have done a lot worse things and haven’t gotten caught or impeached for it,” said Janae Bonker, Santa Barbara.
Thyne references Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton as recent examples when looking at the impeachment process. You may recall Clinton was impeached but not removed from office.
Thyne says in Trump’s case, the timing rests largely with the House and the inquiry.
“I support the decision to begin a formal impeachment process. The latest episode is clearly one crisis too many, and through a formal impeachment proceeding, we will get all the facts. We need to ensure our elected leaders are truly representing the American people and not their own interests, especially concerning how taxpayer money is spent and the integrity of elections,” said the Gail Teton-Landis. While Teton-Landis is the Chairwoman of the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party, her statement reflects her personal views and not the party as a whole.
“First it was the Russia hoax. Now it’s the Ukraine hoax. President Trump has authorized the release of the transcript of his call with president Zelensky. We call on Biden to release the transcripts of his calls as vice president with Ukrainian and Chinese leaders while his son was conducting shady business deals in those countries,” said Greg Gandrud, Santa Barbara County Republican Party.