Impeachment Is Not a Coup

Photo: Andrew Spear (Getty)

After more than two years of blatant corruption and self-dealing and inhumane policy in office, President Donald Trump currently faces a serious, organized impeachment inquiry. The impeachment process, set in motion by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on September 24, is a legal means outlined in Constitution for removing a president who’s committed “high crimes.”

Can’t believe we have to say this, but: What is happening is not a coup!

Trump has been pretty quick to cry “coup” throughout his tenure as president, previously using the word to declare the (also legal!) special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election illegitimate. His other favorite term is “witch hunt,” but his use of “coup” is a bit more troubling, as the word usually denotes a process that is, uh, not exactly peaceful. The definition of coup d’ètat isn’t formally set in international law, but it’s typically understood to mean a violent overthrow of an existing ruler by illegal means. What’s happening here is not that!

So Trump’s use of the word to describe the constitutional process is troubling, seeing as our system of government was specifically structured around peaceful transfers of power (between land-owning white people, but still).

And it’s clear we’re going to see this line of attack deployed a lot more. After Trump’s coup chat last night, Fox & Friends picked up the rhetoric this morning:

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What goes relatively unsaid in all of this as well is that the impeachment inquiry is a long ways off from removing Trump from office. If things go well, it could help Democrats in a general election, but even if it succeeds, actually removing a president from power takes a formal trial and then two-thirds of the Senate voting to convict, which seems...less-than-probable given the current makeup of the Senate. An actual coup, on the other hand—far less red tape. Food for thought!

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About the author

Jack Crosbie

Contributing Writer, Splinter