Democrats' impeachment request on Tuesday could ultimately result in the removal of Donald Trump from the US presidency. But it is a rather difficult political process, particularly with the political divisions in Washington.
So hard that it was never successful: the US has never had a presidential impeachment.
Nancy Pelosi, Democrat who heads the House of Representatives, has so far been resisting backing impeachment initiatives, possibly because the initiative could endanger both the moderate Democrat election campaigns running in the 2020 elections and the Democratic majority in the House itself. .
If, then, impeachment has never worked and may still have side effects on the Democrats themselves, why are they pushing the request now?
Next, the BBC explains why the rite is so complex, and why Democrats are at risk:
What is the impeachment process like in the US?
As in Brazil, impeachment needs to be dealt with in both the House and the Senate.
"In the House of Representatives, it only takes a simple majority (to pass). A Democrat-controlled House could almost certainly prevent a president, particularly a Republican, from establishing (the president's practice of) high crime and misconduct." , tells the BBC Jonathan Turley, professor of law at George Washington University.
Then it is the Senate's turn to decide whether the president is guilty of the charges – in which case he would be removed from power. But, as in Brazil, a simple majority is not enough: two-thirds (67%) of US senators must vote to condemn the president. That is, 67 out of a total of 100 senators.
However, considering that 53 of the current senators are Republicans, there is unlikely to be enough votes to overthrow Trump.
To date, only two US presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, and both have been acquitted by the Senate.
So why try an impeachment now?
Defense of the rule of law
"I think the biggest impetus for some members of Congress is just maintaining the rule of law – the idea that no one is above the law, including the president," Professor Kimberly Nalder, a US policy expert at State University, tells the BBC. of California in Sacramento.
"And if there's no reaction from Congress, the door opens for this president and future presidents to have freedom to violate the constitution."
That was Nacy Pelosi's justification for announcing the opening of the impeachment inquiry against Trump, saying that "no one is above the law" and that the president had "broken his presidential oath and violated the constitution."
Mere belief in these principles may be the motivation behind the impeachment request, even if the process itself failed.
Complaints against Trump began shortly after he took power.
"The prospect of impeachment has been around since the early days of Trump's presidency," explains Anthony Zurcher, a BBC correspondent in the United States, noting that cases such as the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election raised the outcry for Congressional action. .
And the current controversy over Trump's call to President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has made this pressure grow.
"The case with Ukraine – and the possibility that Trump used his presidential powers to pressure a foreign government to dig (or fabricate) negative information about a political rival – eventually led to this Democratic determination to contemplate a clear and unambiguous step in impeachment, "says Zurcher.
But beyond the principle there are possible political motivations.
Democrats want to get Trump's agenda off track…
There is no doubt that impeachment proceedings can have an effect on the Presidency. The final years of the Clinton administration, for example, after its impeachment process in 1998, were dominated by the theme.
And today, his government is primarily remembered for the sexual scandal involving Monica Lewinsky, whose developments spanned many decades.
BBC correspondent Nick Bryant points out that Bill Clinton's indiscretions may even have hurt his wife Hillary's presidential campaign in 2016 because "many voters wondered if they wanted to go through another scandal-prone presidency, creating a kind of fatigue against Hillary ".
… Or distract your reelection campaign for 2020
Trump has already started his reelection campaign, eyeing the November 3, 2020, vote. He launched his candidacy at an event for thousands of people in Orlando, Florida, on June 18.
The impeachment process may end up taking Trump's attention, creating obstacles to his reelection plans.
From Twitter, you can see that Trump has devoted considerable time to answering the charges.
But many analysts point out that the issue is also a distraction for Democrats, who will allocate energy to impeachment rather than to themes that could be more positive.
Democrats think public opinion might weigh against Trump
Even if impeachment is not approved by the Senate, the process can have an effect on public opinion.
A poll by YouGov points out that 55% of Americans would support impeachment if it is confirmed that Trump has suspended military aid to Ukraine to force authorities in the country to investigate Joe Biden, who is leading the Democratic race toward the 2020 campaign.
It is possible that new revelations will snowball and make it difficult for Trump to remain in office – and there is historical precedent for that.
"If we look at the example of Watergate in the 1970s with President (Richard) Nixon at the beginning of the impeachment process, when hearings began in Congress, only 19% of the population thought he should leave power, that he should be impeached, "reports Nalder.
But as more information emerged about what he knew in connection with the Watergate scandal, that proportion grew.
"At the end of the process, when he eventually resigned to avoid impeachment, that number went to 57%, a majority in favor of impeachment," she says.
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