It has only been two days since Donald Trump was elected the next president of the United States but upset voters have already started looking into ways to prevent him from assuming office or to cut his presidency short.
In the hours after the results were made public, Google searches for "impeachment" surged and at least one law professor believes there may be enough evidence to impeach Trump for alleged fraud and racketeering activities.
Article II of the US Constitution states that presidents may be impeached if they are convicted of "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors." According to Mic, the process is kicked off by a vote by the House of Representatives and is followed by a formal impeachment trial in the Senate.
Unlike previous presidents-elect, Trump finds himself facing a number of lawsuits, including one for alleged fraud involving Trump University. University of Utah law professor Christopher Lewis Peterson claimed before the election that there could be evidence for Trump to be impeached based on his alleged crimes with Trump University.
"Unlike his promised crimes yet to come, the illegal acts in Trump's high-pressure wealth seminars have already occurred. Indeed, a federal judge appointed under Article III of the US Constitution has already determined that Trump's alleged actions, if true, constitute fraud and racketeering," Peterson wrote in an essay. "[Prior to Trump's inauguration,] 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."
Only two presidents have been at the centre of the impeachment process in the House, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. However, Johnson and Clinton were acquitted by the Senate and remained in office. Meanwhile, Richard Nixon resigned on 9 August 1974 ahead of an almost-certain impeachment in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
Peterson noted in his essay that the Constitution does not limit impeachment to crimes committed while in office. "The fact that Trump has attempted to publicly misrepresent the facts and circumstances surrounding his alleged fraud and racketeering should weigh in the calculus over whether impeachment for pre incumbency crimes is appropriate," Peterson said.
"Just as Trump appears to have lied about his role in Trump University to students, he has throughout the election continued to misrepresent the cases that focus on his misrepresentations," Peterson added.
However, with Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate, it is unlikely Trump will face a preemptive impeachment. University of California political science professor Eric Schickler told the New York Post that impeachment is "ultimately a political decision."
"There is discretion for Congress to define its range," he said. If Democrats were to pursue impeachment, and were successful, they would still have to contend with Trump's ultra-conservative and politically-savvy vice president, Mike Pence.