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Impeachment!

Dicembre 2019
Per la terza volta nella storia, un presidente degli Stati Uniti si trova ad affrontare un processo di ‘impeachment’, un complesso meccanismo per destituire dalla carica chi ha commesso un reato particolarmente grave.

di Conor Gleeson

File audio:

clicca qui per andare alla relativa traccia audio (contrassegnata dalla scritta "speaker")


US President Richard Nixon in 1973
US President Richard Nixon in 1973
US President Bill Clinton
and Monica Lewinsky in 1995
US President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in 1995

Speaker: Molly Malcolm (American accent)

The impeachment of an American President is a very unusual event. There were only two examples before the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House: Andrew Johnson in 1868, and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both men were acquitted. President Nixon was only days from impeachment in 1974 in the Watergate scandal when he resigned.

NATURE OF IMPEACHMENT

Impeachment is the ultimate check on executive and judicial authority, and can be used against a President accused of misconduct. The American Constitution says that Congress can remove a President if enough members vote that the President committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours.”

PAST IMPEACHMENTS

Only two of the forty-four Presidents before Trump faced impeachment. Andrew Johnson was impeached for breaking the law limiting presidential power to remove federal officials. He escaped impeachment by Congress by just one vote. Bill Clinton faced allegations that he had lied under oath about his affair with the intern Monica Lewinsky, and had then tried to obstruct justice by asking White House staff to deny the affair. He won the vote in Congress.

IMPEACHMENT PROCESS

A presidential impeachment process must go through both houses of the Congress. First, after an official inquiry has taken place, the House of Representatives votes on the list of charges against the President. If a majority vote against the President, he or she is impeached. The second house, the Senate, then holds a trial, supervised by the country’s Chief Justice. Lawyers represent the President and the prosecution, and the Senate acts as the jury. If two-thirds of the senators – that is, sixty-seven out of a hundred – convict the President, he leaves office. If fewer than sixty-seven vote against the President, he continues.

CHARGES AGAINST TRUMP

The accusation against Trump came from a whistleblower. He or she alleged that Trump broke the law by pressuring the President of Ukraine to open a corruption investigation connected to Joe Biden, a potential Democratic opponent in the 2020 Presidential election. When the authors of the American Constitution listed the crimes that would warrant the impeachment of a President, they specifically noted the danger that he (or she) may “betray his trust to foreign powers” as a means to “gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” According to his accuser, Trump invited and may even have extorted a foreign country to interfere in the election of the next US President.  


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Explains

Whistleblower. Informatore. To blow a whistle significa letteralmente ‘suonare’ (‘soffiare’) il ‘fischietto’. È un termine nautico (un tempo le barche usavano i fischietti per avvisare in caso d’emergenza) che oggi fa riferimento a quelle persone che appartengono o lavorano per un’azienda o un’istituzione e che, conoscendone le infrazioni o i reati, decidono di denunciarli per vie interne, alle autorità o persino ai media.