By Alix Culbertson, news reporter
Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his ex-lawyer have both admitted financial crimes, increasing speculations the 45th president could face impeachment.
Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime lawyer and “fixer”, admitted to eight charges on Tuesday, including campaign finance violations, tax fraud and false statements to a bank – and has threatened to “spill all” on Mr Trump.
Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign manager, was found guilty of eight charges on the same day – five tax fraud charges, one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud.
They will both be going to jail – Cohen has struck a plea deal in return for significantly reduced jail time, while Manafort could be in prison for 80 years.
Both Manafort and Cohen’s convictions have left Mr Trump at his most vulnerable and have raised questions about his judgement and whether he could be also be convicted and impeached over the matter.
But how would he be impeached and what would it take for him to be ousted as president?
What is impeachment?
Impeachment is when a legislative body formally levels charges – which have to be very serious – against a high official of government, including the president.
It does not mean automatic removal from office and is only the first step towards removal.
It is not a criminal trial but a process to remove a high-level official, usually only a president in the US.
What does a president have to do to get impeached?
The US constitution says the president “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanours”.
What constitutes “high crimes or misdemeanours” has been the subject of much legal debate.
Who has the power to impeach a president?
Anybody can initiate the process, from a member of the house to a judge or even a public petition.
They refer the official to the US house of representatives who will then impeach them.
A simply majority vote is then required from the house for the process to proceed to the senate, which has the power to try impeachments to ultimately oust a president from office.
What happens when the impeachment process reaches the senate?
The senate chamber is where the real drama happens, with senators acting like jurors.
A collection of house members are made “managers” to present the prosecution case while the impeached official has the right to mount a defence with their own lawyers.
It is usually overseen by the vice-president but for a presidential impeachment the chief justice of Supreme Court presides.
The senate then decides on whether to convict or acquit, with two thirds – 67 senators – needed to finally remove the accused.
Senators can also decide whether to disqualify the accused from holding future offices.
There is no turning back as someone who is ousted cannot appeal, according to the constitution.
Which presidents have been impeached?
Two occupants of the Oval Office have seen impeachment proceedings launched against them, but no president has been successfully removed from office through the process.
The Democrat president was impeached in 1869 after clashing with congress (then controlled by the Radical Republicans, a faction of the Republican party) over his ideas for Reconstruction, the rebuilding of the southern states after the South’s defeat in the Civil War.
He was let off the hook after receiving 35 guilty votes on three issues – just one too few votes to get the two thirds majority.
To stop any further embarrassment the Radical Republicans halted any more votes, saving his presidency before he resigned the next year.
The Democrat is the second and last president to have been impeached.
In 1998 he was impeached on perjury and the obstruction of justice with regards to his affair with Monica Lewinsky, a 21-year-old White House intern.
He had denied having a relationship with her after the news broke of their relationship.
But during a sexual harassment case brought by Ms Lewinsky, the president acknowleged to a grand jury that he had an affair with her.
Five weeks after Mr Clinton was impeached he was acquitted after 55 senators rejected the perjury charge and half rejected the obstruction of justice charge.
He then apologised for his behaviour and continued as president until he resigned in 2001 with the highest ever end-of-office approval ratings.
Wait, what about Richard Nixon?
The Republican was not actually impeached – a common misunderstanding.
During the Watergate scandal, involving illegal activities such as bugging offices by his supporters, Mr Nixon resigned in 1974 before he could be impeached, which the senate had already been preparing for.
He was then pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford.
So, how likely is it that President Trump could be impeached?
Nobody can be certain, but the likelihood of impeachment could increase after the mid-term elections in November.
Mr Trump’s Republicans currently control both the house and the senate, but the Democrats have hopes of regaining control of the two legislative branches.
No president has been impeached while their own party held the majority in both houses, so if the opposition has control of congress, the risk of impeachment will rise.
And if Cohen makes good on his promise to “spill all” to the special counsel looking into collusion with Russia, the president will be on shaky ground.
Is there any other way a president can be removed from office?
Yes. The 25th amendment states that the vice-president and a majority of congress or top officials may remove the president if he can no longer “discharge the powers and duties of his office”.
The vice-president then becomes acting president.
This can be used for when a president is incapacitated during major surgery.
However, Ronald Reagan’s administration considered using it to remove him after he showed increasing signs of ineptitude.
But on the day they agreed to observe his behaviour to decide whether to impose the 25th, he was fully functional and appeared capable.
There have been suggestions President Trump could be removed using the 25th amendment after psychologists said he could have onset Alzheimer’s or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.