What's next for the Trump impeachment inquiry?
TORONTO -- Donald Trump could become the third president of the United States to be impeached, after Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed yesterday the House of Representatives will move forward with articles of impeachment.
At a news conference, Pelosi insisted: “The facts are uncontested. The president abused his power for his own political benefit at the expense of our national security, by withholding military aid and a crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement for an investigation into his political rival.”
Impeachment is the most serious action Congress can take against a president. And while it may seem like it’s a done deal, several steps remain in the process that would oust Donald Trump from office, including a trial in the Senate – where Trump’s Republican allies hold the majority.
Here’s a look at what happens next:
ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT
The House Judiciary Committee now has the authority to write articles of impeachment. Think of these like charges in a criminal trial. These articles will likely mostly contain Democrats’ findings on Trump’s abuse of office and obstruction which were released earlier this week by the Intelligence Hearing.
Each article needs to be approved by a majority of the committee. Lawmakers and staff are expected to finish the articles in the coming days.
Articles reported by the Judiciary Committee will then be considered on the House of Representatives floor by all members. The House debated former president Bill Clinton’s articles of impeachment for two days. It is expected the debate over Trump’s impeachment will begin on December 16 and they hope to wrap up with a vote before Christmas.
HOUSE IMPEACHMENT VOTE
A simple majority on the House floor is needed to formally impeach the president. The current House of Representatives is made up of 233 Democrats and 197 Republicans; so the vote is likely to pass. In 1868, the vote to impeach President Andrew Johnson was based on “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
In Bill Clinton’s case, the House approved two of the four articles presented by the Judiciary Committee – one for lying under oath and also for obstruction of justice.
If Trump is impeached, the Senate will hold a trial to decide if he should be removed from office. The House would appoint a team of lawmakers to present the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Senators will listen to evidence presented by House members and vote on whether Trump is guilty of the impeachment charges presented.
A two-thirds majority is required to remove him from office. Republicans hold a majority in the chamber, making it highly unlikely that Trump would be found guilty. Andrew Johnson was not convicted and remained in office, and Bill Clinton was acquitted after a five week trial.
Donald Trump has said he wants a full trial in the Senate because he would receive fair treatment there. White House officials are indicating they will mount a strong defense in the Senate and aim to flip the switch on Democrats.
With files from CTV News Washington correspondent Richard Madan
Watch W5's "U.S.A. vs. Donald J. Trump" Saturday at 7 p.m. on CTV