Shock and Awe at the White House
Four months into office, US President Donald Trump has said and done a lot of things
Some more baffling than others, but never devoid of the shock value that has coloured his presidency, keeping both the media and market observers on edge.
However, his most damaging act had come from his recent decision to fire FBI President James Comey, as well as latest allegations that Trump was also responsible for leaking classified information to Russian officials during a White House briefing.
Although any concrete evidence is absent at this point, many are speculating that Trump’s decision to fire Comey was an attempt to halt FBI investigations into Russia’s possible interference in the US elections.
Trump’s critics have railed against his actions and have called for his impeachment. But just how likely is this to happen and its implications to markets?
To impeach a president is to remove a sitting president from office, stripping away one’s powers and be officially declared unfit to serve
Under the US Constitution, a president can be impeached specifically under two charges, i.e. treason and bribery. The Constitution also contains a broader clause to remove a president for other acts of “high crimes and misdemeanours.”
As most proceedings usually are, the impeachment process is a lengthy and complicated one. Firstly, the process must pass through the House of Representatives, where a simple majority is needed for an article of impeachment to be approved – with each article bearing a charge against the president.
Following which, the proceeding then moves on the Senate with a trial presided by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Finally and most crucially, it must obtain a two-third majority vote from the Senate to convict the president on any charge.
By all accounts, securing two-thirds of the Senate, i.e. 67 votes is no easy feat and would need the buy-in from both Republicans and Democrats that the president had indeed commit those alleged crimes.
Thus, charging and impeaching a president cannot be entirely a partisan exercise.
Currently, both the House of Representatives and the Senate are majority-controlled by Republicans and given that they probably still need Trump’s working class support base to retain power, it is unlikely that there would be enough votes to impeach Trump in congress.