Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday, setting the stage for him becoming only the third US leader to be impeached and put on trial in the Senate.
Trump was accused of abusing his powers and obstruction of Congress, after a two-month probe uncovered evidence that he withheld military aid and a summit with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky as he demanded that Kiev announce investigations into possible 2020 election foe Joe Biden and the Democrats.
Trump has denied wrongdoing, labeling the impeachment inquiry a “Witch Hunt.” This is what happens next.
House Judiciary Committee Chairperson Jerry Nadler said that later this week – likely on Thursday – the committee will meet to consider the articles. While Trump is entitled to send lawyers, so far the White House has refused to take part in the process.
Instead, the committee is expected to move quickly toward a vote on sending the articles of impeachment to the full House, likely by the end of the week.
As Democrats have a strong majority on the committee, passage is virtually assured.
The House of Representatives will debate the articles of impeachment.
In the case of president Bill Clinton in 1998-99, the chamber debated four articles of impeachment for more than 13 hours over two days, and voted on the second day to approve them.
Debate of Trump’s case, just two articles, could also span two days.
Approval requires a simple majority, and Democrats hold a 233 to 197 advantage over Republicans, making passage assured: Trump will be formally charged, or impeached.
A vote to impeach would send the case to a Senate trial of a sitting president for only the third time in US history.
The trial would likely take place in January after Congress returns from a two-week Christmas break.
In his official 2020 calendar released last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell left January blank — an indicator that the impeachment trial is expected to take up much of the month.
McConnell would control the process and could determine how long it lasts, limiting or expanding the time for testimony and arguments. Clinton’s trial lasted six weeks.
John Roberts, chief justice of the Supreme Court, would preside, and the 100 senators would sit as the jury.
Representatives from the House would act as prosecutors, with the president’s attorneys presenting his defense.
Convicting Trump and forcing his removal from office is believed unlikely. It would require two-thirds of the Senate, and Republicans, who so far remain firmly behind the president, hold 53 of the 100 seats.
Politics will have a big influence on the final vote, and with presidential and congressional elections looming in November 2020, lawmakers have to consider where their constituents stand on impeachment.