WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has been impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives debated and voted on two articles of impeachment after weeks of testimony, both passed. President Trump is the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.
Trump said that despite the Democrats’ patriotic talk, they were actually perpetrating “an assault on America.” Trump defended himself this week in a six-page letter to House Speak Nancy Pelosi, accusing her of “declaring open war on American democracy.”
What happens next?
- The resolution to impeach President Trump will be sent to the Senate.
- The Senate will hold a trial where Trump could be convicted or acquitted.
The rare undertaking to impeach a president unfolded over a long day of debate. It split the lawmakers in Congress much the way Americans have different views of Trump’s unusual presidency and the articles of impeachment against him.
“This is a democracy defining moment,”said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., the chairman of the Rules Committee, as the proceedings began. “This is about protecting our democracy.”
- 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.
Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, called it “a very sad day” before the vote.
One Democrat, Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts, read a letter to his young children explaining his vote to impeach. “This is a moment you will read about in your history books,” he told them.
Trump implores Americans to “read the transcript,” but the facts of his July phone call with the Ukraine president that sparked the impeachment inquiry have been largely confirmed by witnesses in impeachment hearings. Trump asked Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democrats and his 2020 political rival Joe Biden. At the time, the newly elected Ukraine leader was hoping for a coveted White House visit to showcase his standing with the U.S., his country’s most important ally. He was also counting on nearly $400 million in military aid as his country confronted its hostile neighbor, Russia.
The question for lawmakers, and Americans, is whether those actions, and the White House’s block on officials testifying for the House investigation, are impeachable offenses.
From Alaska to Florida, tens of thousands of Americans marched in support of impeachment Tuesday evening, from a demonstration through a rainy Times Square to handfuls of activists standing vigil in small towns. They carried signs saying “Save the Constitution - Impeach!!!!” and “Criminal-in-Chief.”
The House impeachment resolution says that Trump abused the power of his office and then tried to obstruct the investigation in Congress like “no other” president in history. “President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office,” it says.