Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Ed Miliband, show us you have what it takes to be prime minister (Guardian)

His Labour party is resurgent, writes Alan Johnson. But in Manchester, Miliband must do more to demonstrate that he is a leader.

2. Power has come at a colossal price that Clegg isn't ready to concede (Independent)

It takes some chutzpah to claim that the Lib Dems have made a great leap forward when some polls place them behind Ukip, writes Steve Richards.

3. Politicians cannot hide from UK finances (Financial Times)

Our fiscal problems will not abate when the structural deficit recedes, write Nick Pearce and Gavin Kelly.

4. Another chapter in the slow death of politics (Daily Telegraph)

The public has lost faith in left and right – and it’s hard to see how it can be recovered, writes Sue Cameron.

5. UKIP’s disturbed vision is a Tory nightmare (Times) (£)

Nigel Farage’s party offers only dangerously appealing right-wing comfort politics that don’t stand up to scrutiny, writes David Aaronovitch.

6. Nick agrees with Nick (Guardian)

Clegg's calculation that there is ample space for his brand of centrism is questionable, to say the least, argues a Guardian editorial.

7. Not even the great economists of history can get us out of this fix (Daily Telegraph)

Our financial crisis is unique, and the route back to health will be painful, costly and long, says Jeremy Warner.

8. Rule of law can rid the world of poverty (Financial Times)

The poor will be safe when their rights are protected, write George Soros and Fazle Hasan Abed.

9. The Lib Dem leader's plan to plunder the hard-earned assets of Britain's pensioners (Daily Mail)

Clegg’s proposals are ill-considered, unworkable and unfair, says Stephen Glover.

10. May Andrew Mitchell survive the baying mob (Guardian)

The chief whip behaved boorishly, but should not be vilified, argues Geoffrey Wheatcroft. This story is really about the deterioration of the police.

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As Donald Trump once asked, how do you impeach a President?

Starting the process is much easier than you might think. 

Yes, on Friday, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. And no, you can’t skip the next four years.

But look on the bright side. Those four years might never happen. On the one hand, he could tweet the nuclear codes before the day is out. On the other, his party might reach for their own nuclear button – impeachment. 

So, how exactly can you impeach a President? Here is our rough guide.

OK, what does impeachment actually mean?

Impeachment is the power to remove an elected official for misconduct. Here’s the relevant clause of the US Constitution:

“The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Impeachment is actually a legacy of British constitutional history, and dates back as far as 1376, but according to our own parliamentary website, in the UK “this procedure is considered obsolete”. 

It’s up to the US Congress to decide whether to impeach and convict a President. Both houses are controlled by the Republicans, so impeaching Trump would mean turning against one who is – technically at least – one of their own. Since he’s already insulted the neighbouring country, supported discrimination against Muslim immigrants and mocked a disabled reporter, their impeachment threshold seems pretty high. But let’s imagine he surpasses himself. What next?

The impeachment process

Members of the House of Representatives – the lower chamber of the Congress – can start the impeachment process. They in turn may be encouraged to do so by voters. For example, there is a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to people who tried to impeach Barack Obama. One Impeach Obama supporter simply gave his reason as stopping the President from “pushing his agenda”. Another wanted to do so on the grounds of gross incompetence...

But for an impeachment attempt to actually work, the impeacher needs to get the support of the house. If a majority agree with the idea of impeaching the elected official, they nominate members to act as prosecutors during the subsequent trial. This takes place in the Senate, the upper house of Congress. In most impeachments, the Senate acts as judge and jury, but when a President is impeached, the chief justice of the United States presides.     

Two-thirds of the Senate must vote for impeachment in order to convict. 

What are the chances of impeaching Donald Trump?

So if Trump does something that even he can’t tweet away, and enough angry voters email their representatives, Congress can begin the process of impeachment. But will that be enough to get him out?

It’s often assumed that Richard Nixon was kicked out because he was impeached for the cover up known as the Watergate Scandal. In fact, we’ll never know, because he resigned before the House could vote on the process.

Two decades later, the House got further with Bill Clinton. When it emerged Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky, an intern, he initially denied it. But after nearly 14 hours of debate, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives decided to impeach him on grounds including perjury and obstruction of justice.

In the Senate trial, Clinton’s defenders argued that his actions did not threaten the liberty of the people. The majority of Senators voted to acquit him. 

The only other Presidential impeachment took place in 1868, when President Andrew Johnson, removed a rabble-rouser from his Cabinet. The guilty vote fell short of the two-thirds majority, and he was acquitted.

So, what’s the chances of impeaching Trump? I’ll leave you with some numbers…

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.