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If Americans could have it their way, Donald Trump would not be the President of the United States. Since his inauguration, Trump's approval rating has been lower than any other president in recent history, and his disapproval rating has been remarkably high.
Donald Trump's White House is plagued with legal issues and an ongoing investigation into whether he conspired with foreign leaders to win the 2016 election. There is also concern that Trump is using his position of power for commercial gain, and that his private business affairs are influencing him to make decisions that counter American values.
We've heard about the possibility that he knowingly colluded with Russia to win the election, we've heard about the hush money he sent to two women with whom he had extramarital affairs, and we know that Trump's business empire poses conflicts of interest, but does any of this mean that Trump could be impeached?
Impeachment: The Constitution and Precedents
In the United States, the impeachment of a public officer is the same thing as the indictment of a layperson by a grand jury.
If a president, senator, Supreme Court justice, or other public officer faces impeachment proceedings, he or she will face the Senate for a trial. Then, the House of Representatives has the last say.
Impeachment is an investigative process, and it does not necessarily result in the automatic, forced removal of the officer from their position of power.
Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution defines the grounds for impeachment as follows:
"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."
Of the three presidents of the United States who have faced impeachment proceedings, only one of them has resulted in a president being removed from office.
There was the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868, after he fired his Secretary of War in violation of the 1867 Tenure of Office Act, which barred the President from firing the cabinet members who they hired in the first place. The act was ruled as unconstitutional and repealed by the Senate 20 years later.
More recently, in 1974, Richard Nixon was called in for impeachment hearings for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress. Nixon chose to resign before facing impeachment charges.
Then, 24 years later, Bill Clinton resigned from office after being tried by the Senate for perjury and obstruction of justice.
The legal issues we hear about in relation to Trump's presidency are unprecedented, and that makes the prospects of impeachment proceedings a bit murkier.
There is, however, one rule that Trump is clearly violating, and that is the Title of Nobility Clause.
Violation of the Title of Nobility Clause
In July, Trump made an unsuccessful attempt to dismiss a case against him for violating the Title of Nobility Clause (AKA the Emoluments Clause).
The law, which can be found in Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8 of the United States Constitution, states that:
"No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State."
In other words, it's illegal for public officers in the United States to take payments from foreign governments and US states without approval from Congress.
How Trump Violated the Emolument Clause
While in office, the President of the United States is not allowed to use his position of power to make more money in their other businesses.
A little known fact about Trump you probably didn't know though is that he has been accepting emoluments from foreign governments, foreign officials, diplomats, and US States via the Trump International Hotel, which is located just blocks away from the White House.
Sleeping in the gold-plated D.C. hotel costs roughly between $450 and $20,000 per night, and Reuters cites Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as examples of foreign governments that have held events at the hotel, which, as a result, landed President Trump thousands of dollars in profits.
Fallout from This Violation
Trump's personal business affairs seem to be impacting the decisions he makes as a leader of the country.
There is damning evidence that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia was behind the torture, murder, and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist and Saudi National Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.
The European Parliament has responded to the murder by calling for a vote on halting the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.
Donald Trump, however, refuses to place sanctions on the United States arm trade with Saudi Arabia, claiming that the arms deal in place has created over a million jobs for Americans. For the record, just three days earlier, Trump told Fox News the deal had created 500,000 jobs.
According to the Associated Press, none of these figures are substantiated.
The Lies He Tells
Trump's leniency toward the Saudi kingdom has raised eyebrows. Could he be acting in the best interest of his private business relationship with the Saudi government instead of doing what's best for the United States?
Trump claims to have no financial interest in the kingdom; however, he has made a significant sum from Saudi officials staying in his hotels while in office.
For example, Saudi lobbyists spent $270,000 on room reservations at Trump's Washington hotel in 2017.
Meanwhile, in 2018, when the Washington hotel was experiencing a decline in revenue, Saudi Officials boosted the hotel's revenue by 13 percent after a five-day stay in May.
Other Legal Threats to the Trump White House
President Trump's violation of the emolument's clause is certainly a more clear-cut case that could very well result in impeachment proceedings, but what about the other legal threats that surround the Trump campaign and White House? What about all of that collusion and hush money we've heard so much about?
Although it certainly looks like Trump is guilty of campaign finance violations and impeding investigations into collusion, there's still a lot of questions to be answered before impeachment proceedings can begin.
Conspiracy to Win the 2016 Election
The FBI has been investigating Donald Trump and whether he knowingly colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election since before he even took office.
The investigation, headed by Special counsel Robert Mueller, has definitely made progress, but the public has a lot of patient waiting to do.
With Paul Manafort cooperating with the FBI after pleading guilty to eight counts of financial crimes, we will be getting some answers soon. Meanwhile, Trump still refuses to assist in the investigation.
If Trump did, in fact, knowingly work with Russia to win the 2016 election, he would undoubtedly face charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice, and there will be impeachment proceedings.
Even though Trump has not behaved innocently throughout the investigation (i.e., firing James Comey and threatening to fire Robert Mueller on at least two occasions), being investigated by the FBI does not reasonably mean that Trump could be impeached.
Campaign Finance Violations
To be clear, Barrack Obama had to pay a $375,000 settlement for campaign finance violations in 2008. The difference is that Obama paid his dues and didn't try to cover anything up.
If we find out that Trump did indeed pay hush money to Daniels and McDougal, he will be in worse shape than Obama was.
We know that David Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, sent a total of $280,000 to two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, with whom Trump allegedly had extramarital affairs.
Cohen, who testified under oath that Trump instructed him to send hush money to the women, released a recorded conversation between himself and the president in which they discuss the transaction of money to former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
The Denial of Knowing About Hush Money
Trump responded to the release of the audio tape by saying he didn't know about the hush money after Cohen made the payment. Trump also emphasized that the hush money payment came from his own pockets and that the Trump campaign did not provide a penny of it.
As sketchy as this is, as long as Trump maintains that he did not know about the payment until afterward, there's still not enough evidence to commence impeachment proceedings in this case.
If proof of Trump's complicity should come to light though, he would be at risk of what it would take to impeach Donald Trump, obstruction of justice and campaign finance violations.
What You Could Do About It
It's painfully obvious that Donald Trump has many skeletons in his closet that he intends to keep hidden, despite the fact that people remain asking the question, "Will Trump be impeached?"
We don't have any proof Trump could be impeached just yet; we merely have clues that tell us he's obstructing justice, and that he's used the help of criminals to advance the Trump campaign. We can assume that he did so knowingly, but we don't have any hard proof.
The best case against Trump is his violation against the emoluments clause, and he hasn't done himself any favors by being so soft with Saudi Arabia in recent weeks.
Democrats Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi have both stated that it would be a mistake for Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump, and they do have a point.
Right now, impeaching Trump for collusion or campaign finance violations would be a purely political move.
If you're worried about the way things are going in the White House, put your opinion in the ballot box and let your voice be heard.