DISCUSSION: How will the impeachment process against Trump play out?

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday announced a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. He is accused of seeking to enlist a foreign government to help tarnish a domestic political rival.

How will the impeachment process play out?

  • Watch the Friday morning discussion above.

Here are the key points:

The Ukraine scandal

  • President Donald Trump pressed Ukraine to investigate former vice president and 2020 candidate Joe Biden while stalling military aid to the country, according to records released Wednesday.
  • The incident occurred during a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump, saying his conduct reveals a “betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
  • Trump immediately responded to the impeachment inquiry by calling it “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”


  • Sept. 13 : House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff issued a subpoena to Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire alleging that he was unlawfully withholding a whistleblower complaint of “urgent concern.”
  • Sept. 19: The New York Times and the Washington Post reported that the complaint dealt with Ukraine.
  • Sept. 20: The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump in a July 25 phone call pressured Zelensky to investigate Biden, and to work with Rudy Giuliani on a probe that would hamper Trump’s potential 2020 opponent.
  • Following the Journal report, Giuliani went on CNN and admitted to asking Ukraine to investigate Biden.
  • Sept. 22 : Trump told reporters that he discussed the corruption accusations against Biden during a call with Zelensky .
  • Sept. 23: The New York Times reported that Trump ordered his staff to freeze nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine days before he pressed Zelensky to investigate Biden.
    • Senior officials tried to delay the phone call between Trump and Zelensky , fearing that Trump would pressure Ukraine for information on Biden, the Washington Post reported.
  • Sept. 24 : House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump, accusing him of seeking a foreign government's help in his reelection bid.
  • Sept. 25 : A released memorandum of the call between Trump and Zelensky showed that Trump urged him to speak with Giuliani and work with US Attorney General William Barr to investigate Biden.
    • Trump to Zelensky : “Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great.
    • Trump to Zelensky : There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it…
  • Sept. 26 : The whistleblower complaint is made public. It alleges that White House officials sought to “lock down” records of the phone call between Trump and Zelensky .

How the impeachment process works

  • Congress is permitted to remove a president from office if lawmakers vote to say the official committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” according to the Constitution.
    • “High crimes and misdemeanors” does not necessarily refer to violations of ordinary criminal statutes.
    • Alexander Hamilton described impeachable crimes as those offenses which proceed from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.
    • President Gerald Ford: “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”
  • The two most recent presidential impeachments began with the House voting whether to investigate impeachable offenses. A House committee would then conduct the investigation to see if impeachment is warranted.
    • There are currently six committees investigating Trump’s presidency. They will continue investigating impeachable offenses and send their strongest cases to the Judiciary Committee.
    • These six committees are Judiciary, Intelligence, Ways and Means, Financial Services, Oversight and Foreign Affairs.
  • Articles of impeachment based on the investigation are written up by the Judiciary Committee to be voted on by the House of Representatives.
  • If less than a majority in the House vote to impeach, the official remains in office.
  • If a majority vote to impeach, the process moves to the Senate.
    • Democrats currently control the House, and would likely vote to impeach.
  • The Senate holds an impeachment trial overseen by the chief justice of the United States.
    • Chief Justice John Roberts currently presides over the Supreme Court of the United States.
    • A team of lawmakers from the House, known as managers, play the role of prosecutors.
    • The official facing impeachment has defense lawyers.
    • The Senate serves as the jury.
  • A two-thirds majority in the Senate must find the official guilty in order for them to be removed from office.
    • Republicans currently control the Senate.
    • President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House, but was not convicted by the Senate and remained in office.
  • Read more: How impeachment works

About the Author:

Brian is an Associate Producer for ClickOnDetroit. He graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a degree in Journalism and Screen Studies.