Guide to impeachment: What’s next in the process?

Brian Geyer and Brian Geyer

President Donald Trump was impeached on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, on two articles of impeachment, making him the third president to be impeached. 

The impeachment vote was made based mainly on party affiliation, with two Democrats voting against the first article and three Democrats voting against the second. One independent voted in favor of both articles. All Republicans voted against both articles. 

The first article of impeachment was introduced based on abuse of power.

The article states, “Using his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election. He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection.” 

Democrats based this article off of a phone call between the Ukraine president and Trump in which Trump asked the Ukraine president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump also falsely claimed that Ukraine, rather than Russia, meddled in the 2016 United States election.

The article also said Trump suspended $391 million of aid to Ukraine that was settled in a bipartisan agreement by Congress. 

The second article of impeachment was introduced based on obstruction of Congress. 

The article stated President Trump abused the powers of his office by “directing the White House to defy a lawful subpoena by withholding the production of documents” by committees in Congress, along with directing other Executive Branch committees to not cooperate. 

The process of impeachment started with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing an impeachment inquiry within the House Judiciary Committee on Sept. 24, 2019. The committee is bipartisan with 24 Democrats and 17 Republicans with Chairman Jerry Nadler heading the committee. The committee then held a hearing before voting on an impeachment resolution. 

A simple majority of 51% of the Judiciary Committee approved the resolution for its vote to move onto the House floor. The House, with a majority held by Democrats, passed the impeachment. 

Speaker Pelosi’s next move will be to pass Trump’s impeachment trial to the Senate to debate the removal of Trump from office. 

No president has been removed from office. The trend is likely to continue as the Senate has the majority held by Republicans, who voted on party lines previously. 

Pelosi said she may wait to send the impeachment proceedings to the Senate to see what the trial might look like. Pelosi said she hopes that by doing this, Trump will pressure Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell to commit to Democrat demands. This includes the ability to call witnesses during the trial. 

The Senate trial does not have set procedures like the House of Representatives’ impeachment trial does. The procedures are set by Senate leadership. 

The goal of the trial is to see whether or not a president committed the crime he was charged with in the previous step of the impeachment process.  

House members during the trial serve as “managers” who give their evidence during the procedure, similar to prosecutors during a criminal trial. 

Senators listen to arguments from the evidence presented from the managers from the House and the defense by the counsel of the President. 

After the trial is finished, two-thirds of the Senate must vote guilty in order for the president to be removed from office. 

If Trump is not removed from office, he will remain an impeached president for the remainder of his term and no further action will be taken against him through the process.