Calls for impeachment

Donald trump has had a bumpy start to his presidency. His decision not to divest from his financial dealings, and his partial ban on seven Muslim majority countries has drawn criticism and even calls for impeachment. An online poll created on the day of Trump's inauguration has garnered almost one million submissions indicating support for impeachment. Recent polls indicate that 46% of Americans approve of impeachment, while 46% are opposed. This comes in contrast to the popularity bump that presidents historically enjoy after inauguration.

And in the House of Representatives, where any impeachment proceedings would occur, four representatives have already indicated their interest in impeaching Trump; Representatives Maxine Waters of California, Jerrold Nadler of New York, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, and Joaquin Castro of Texas. Nadler, a top Democrat in the House Judiciary Committee, has gone as far as to file "Articles of Inquiry" into the president. This is considered the first step toward an impeachment process. And now there is a citizen's lead movement to impeach at WeImpeach.org.

Many are dismissive of calls for impeachment, as the House of Representatives is squarely in Republican control. However, there have been indications "behind-the-scenes" that Republicans may be more open to the idea than the public might suspect. Robert Reich, a former secretary of labor under Clinton, claims to know of contingency plans being made by congressional Republicans to impeach Trump if things get out of control.

There is also Stephen Calabresi, a prominent conservative (who served in two Republican administrations and is currently a law professor at Northwestern) who has indicated that "impeachment needs to be on the table."

Citizen's impeachment movement

Even with these rumblings, Republicans in Congress would need to be under more pressure before they would start to break ranks and risk losing the power they have only recently gained.

One organization (Impeach for Peace) is busy building that pressure. They've researched the methods available in the rules of the House to initiate impeachment. The rules list several methods by which impeachment can be set in motion (a resolution by a House representative, a state legislature, a grand jury, etc). Before the House Judiciary Committee can put together "Articles of Impeachment" (a set of charges against a public official), one of the methods must be implemented. One method outlined in the manual is for individual citizens to initiate the impeachment process. This method was used once by a Missouri citizen to impeach a federal judge. Citizens are instructed to submit a "memorial" for impeachment (a written statement of facts charging a government official with impeachable offenses).

The 1826 memorial by Luke Edward Lawless successfully impeached Federal Judge James H. Peck.

Impeach for Peace has used this 1826 memorial as a template for a "Formal Impeachment Petition" available on their website. They are maintaining a webpage where the public can track the number of memorials submitted state-by-state, as well as the number of representatives in the House currently supporting impeachment. When filling out the online form, people have the option of choosing a recommended impeachable offense (currently they have listed the immigration ban), or you can stipulate your own reasons you believe Trump has abused his power.

There's no telling what kind of effect this new tool will have on the movement.

It may end up providing encouragement to hesitant Democrats in Congress. It may also provide pressure to Republicans in Congress, who may eventually need to acquiesce to impeachment. To be clear, only one petition was needed in the case of Judge James H. Peck. However, impeachment is acknowledged to be a political process. Therefore, in this political environment, we can expect the need for a larger outcry by the public, and many more such memorials, before impeachment is likely.

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