In America’s 243-year history, only three previous presidents have faced impeachment proceedings, with two being impeached but only just and not until the whole process is exhausted in such a way that saw a President removed from office. The Constitution does not prescribe a specific process and neither does federal law, leaving Congress to set its own rules.
The procedure for the impeachment of Trump became widespread news when the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry, directing a handful of House committees to continue their months-long investigations into President Trump. This was followed by closed-door testimonies in which the committee leaders for the House Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs Committees have been issuing subpoenas, taking depositions and conducting closed-door meetings.
On 31st October the House voted to approve a resolution that laid out the rules for the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump; the majority voted yes. After closed-door investigations, open hearings were conducted by the Intelligence Committee. Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the Democrat who leads the committee, and Representative Devin Nunes, the panel’s top Republican, each had 45 minutes to question witnesses. Members of the panel got five minutes each to ask questions.
Next Step, the Intelligence Committee approved sending a report with its findings to the Judiciary Committee. The report was also made available to the public. After receiving the report, the Judiciary Committee held two more hearings. The first hearing invited legal scholars to discuss whether Mr. Trump’s conduct amounted to an impeachable offense. In the second hearing, staff lawyers from the Intelligence Committee presented their dueling reports on the investigation. The president and his counsel were invited but declined to participate.
In 1974(Richard Nixon’s Impeachment process) the Judiciary Committee held multiple meetings and hearings from February through July. Some of the hearings were televised. In 1998, four hearings were held in connection with Clinton’s impeachment by the Judiciary Committee. The hearings lasted for two days.
The House Judiciary Committee’s Democratic majority released two proposed articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump, charging the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The judiciary committee after revisions voted on the proposed articles and then reported both on to the full House. The House Rules Committee set out the rules for formally impeaching the president, allowing for six hours of debate.
The House passed the two articles of impeachment, along party lines. The House voted on each article separately. Only one article needs to be passed to impeach the president. A majority of the House members voted yes to both articles and Trump was Impeached. This is where the process is currently stationed and if you’ve been wondering what’s happening, it’s not too late to catch up.
So having established how far along the process has gone…The Senate trial is the next phase. The House would appoint a team of lawmakers, from the chamber known as managers, to play the role of prosecutors in the Senate trial. The managers would then present the articles of impeachment to the Senate, which would serve as the jury.
The chief justice of the United States would be sworn in to preside over the trial and would then swear in the members of the Senate. The Senate may discuss and adopt detailed trial guidelines. The Senate would issue a summons to the president, asking him to respond to the articles of impeachment by a set date. The President will then do one of two things.
- If the president declines to respond to the impeachment articles, his action would be regarded as a plea of not guilty.
- The president or his counsel would respond to the articles. After which depending on the rules set by the Senate, any senator may propose a motion to dismiss the charges, and the Senate would deliberate and vote on the move for dismissal. A simple majority vote would be required
House managers and White House defense lawyers would present their cases. This process could last for days, Senators may question both parties. subpoena’s could be issued to tender in evidence, more evidence may be requested, more witnesses could be examined and cross examined.
Both sides would provide closing statements. Statements may be made by two people on each side, with the House managers both opening and closing and then the Senate would vote on each article of impeachment separately. A conviction would require a two-thirds vote on one or more articles. The vote is unlikely to pass due to the fact that the House comprises of 45 Democrats and 53 Republicans.
If less than two thirds of the house vote yes then Trump is acquitted and proceeds as the President of the United States. However, if more than two thirds of the House vote yes on 1 or both articles then Trump is removed from office. Both Clinton and Johnson where acquitted by the Senate while Richard M. Nixon resigned before the articles could be submitted to the House( Senate Trial)
Sources: NY Times, CCN (live)