To say that many Americans aren’t happy about the election results would be an understatement. With Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote, and with many minorities feeling threatened by Donald Trump’s aggressive rhetoric, thousands of Americans have taken to the streets to demonstrate their disgust with the President-elect.
Unfortunately, while these protests signal solidarity and resistance, they will do nothing to remove him from office. Trump is here to stay — unless he is impeached.
In order to be impeached in the United States, a president must be guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Depending on the outcome of current investigations, Trump may be found guilty of several serious crimes, ranging from fraud to human trafficking.
For example, Trump University, which claimed to teach real-estate investment skills, was never accredited, nor did it offer valid degrees. Art Cohen, a lawyer from California, filed a lawsuit in 2013 against Trump University on behalf of a group of former students who accused Trump of misrepresenting the business, which was not an actual university. Should Trump be found guilty, University of Utah law Professor Christopher Lewis argues that “Congress would be well within its legal rights under the Constitution to insist upon a president who is not a fraudster or a racketeer as defined in its own law.”
Trump’s modeling agency, Trump Model Management, also faces investigation for human trafficking. Canadian model Rachel Blais — as well as two anonymous models — described to Mother Jones how Trump Model Management encouraged them to immigrate illegally to the United States so the agency would not have to follow U.S. labor laws — rather hypocritical for someone whose platform centers around opposition to illegal immigration. Senator Barbara Boxer asked the Department of Homeland Security to investigate Trump for human trafficking in light of these allegations. If Trump is found guilty, this crime would also count as a high crime or misdemeanor.
A Republican-held Congress may be unwilling to remove Trump from office. On the other hand, the possibility of a Pence presidency may incentivize anti-Trump Republicans to impeach Trump. Political historian Allan Lichtman, who has correctly predicted the results of all but one presidential election since 1984, thinks this might be the case. “[Republicans] don’t want Trump as president, because they can’t control him,” he explains. “He’s unpredictable. They’d love to have Pence — an absolutely down-the-line, conservative, controllable Republican. And I’m quite certain Trump will give someone grounds for impeachment, either by doing something that endangers national security or because it helps his pocketbook.”
Jonathan Chait argues otherwise in New York Magazine, claiming that very few Republicans will want to oppose Trump because they view him as beneficial to their party. He explains that “the first and most important factor binding the GOP to its president will be the irresistible chance to sign their agenda into law — a chance Republicans rightly believe is unlikely to come again.” But the fiercely conservative Pence would also agree to pass Republican legislation.
Being stuck with Mike Pence wouldn’t be much of an improvement. He viciously opposes LGBT rights, thinks condoms are too “liberal,” and led the fight to defund Planned Parenthood. This, along with his opposition to needle exchanges, triggered an HIV outbreak in Indiana during his tenure as governor. But impeaching Trump would send a powerful message that nobody is above the law, and that our constitutional rights trump wealth, power and corruption.