UCF students say Trump impeachment unlikely

Demonstrators gather at Lake Eola to protest President-elect Donald Trump on Nov. 11. Photo by Adam Manno.

Election season ended with Republican candidate Donald Trump walking away with a new title, leaving many Americans wondering how to change that.

Impeachment, resigning and Trump’s upcoming trial have been highly-talked about since the business-mogul was announced president-elect.

UCF political science associate professor Aubrey Jewett explained impeachment as a two-step process that involves formally bringing charges on the president to the House of Representatives and then holding a trial in the Senate to decide on the charges.

Jewett said, once the charges are brought to the Senate, it takes a two-thirds vote to convict the president of the charges. To date, the U.S. has only had two presidents charged with impeachment by the House: Andrew Johnson after the Civil War and, more recently, Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Neither were convicted in the Senate and, thus, continued to serve as presidents. Meaning no presidents have been removed from office on impeachment so far.

“A president does not necessarily have to break the law to be impeached,” Jewett said. “Grounds for impeachment are really whatever the members of the U.S. House decide they are at any given time.”

The Constitution says a president can be impeached for treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors. The Constitution, however, does not define these terms exclusively, so the definitions are up to the House.

Those  who are hoping for an impeachment charge on Trump are looking for things that could warrant such a charge, like his upcoming trial regarding Trump University students and his recently canceled lawsuit for rape.

“Yes, the upcoming trial against Trump University could be used as grounds for impeachment,” Jewett said. “The House decides what is an impeachable offense, and so if they thought Trump’s action in Trump University case warranted removal, they could vote to start the impeachment process.”

Amanda Vasquez, a freshman majoring in physics and math, said impeaching Trump means America would have Vice President-elect Mike Pence as their new president, which comes with mixed reactions.

“Impeaching [Trump] would likely benefit Republicans, who have, for the most part, been distancing themselves from him near the end of the campaign. For them, Pence is a better, more trustworthy alternative,” Vasquez, 18, said. “For Democrats, however, a Pence presidency is arguably worse, since Pence is a man who can be taken seriously, unlike Trump, while still maintaining terrible policies.”

Pence is known for his funding on gay conversion therapy, defunding of Planned Parenthood, lowering corporate tax-rates and his involvement with specific policies in law enforcement.

While some are considering the outcome of a hypothetical impeachment, others don’t think it’s even a possibility for Trump.

“Trump cannot be impeached because he did nothing wrong,” Taylor Pugh, a senior English major, said. “The Democrats lost the Senate and even [if they had] kept it, mean rhetoric is no grounds for impeachment. There is no ground to impeach the president-elect.”

Instead, Pugh is looking forward to what a Trump presidency can bring America.

“Ultimately, I hope President-elect Trump succeeds in the office … and can begin to suture the toxic wounds that have prevailed in our country for a long time,” Pugh, 22, said.

Brandon Englert, a junior digital media and design student, said he has been a registered Democrat since 2008, but voted for Trump as part of what he called the election of “a revolution of the silent majority.”

“I do not believe and will not support any type of impeachment on Donald Trump,” Englert, 26, said.  “Hillary Clinton had an FBI investigation that is still going on and she was allowed to run for President. Donald Trump has not been convicted of any crimes and therefore [there] is no reason to impeach him.”

Although Trump is not officially president until the electoral college votes on Dec. 19, some students are ready to accept him as their commander in chief. 

“I think the time to consider all the legal allegations against him have passed, and he is currently innocent until proven guilty,” Raven Polanco, a political science freshman, 18, said. “I don’t want him to be the president, but we did this. We allowed him to gain power, and we need to deal with the consequences of that choice.”