Following weeks of maneuvering that included both behind-closed-doors testimony of several witnesses, public testimony of several witnesses and public testimony of constitutional scholars, key Democrat-led House committees have formally produced the document that could make President Donald Trump the third U.S. president to be impeached, after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.
“He endangers the constitution, he endangers our democracy, and he endangers our national security,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler.
Abuse of Power
The first article rests on the matter that started the impeachment inquiry in the first place: Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified under oath that he believed that Trump was using $400 million in withheld military aid as a bargaining chip to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
Other witnesses testified about the goings-on between the State Department, the Trump administration and Ukraine. Their testimony formed the allegation that Trump violated the limits of the power granted to him by the Constitution. So, the House will vote on whether or not to impeach him for his purported abuse of power.
Obstruction of Congress
The second article concerns the administration’s efforts to stymie the impeachment investigation. Specifically, Trump ordered several potential witnesses not to testify; some witnesses obeyed his order and refused to testify, some defied the order and testified. At least one other potential witness asked a court to decide whose order should be obeyed, Trump’s or Congress’. Congress proceeded without the testimony of any witnesses who were awaiting a court decision.
What Happens Next?
As of writing, there is no firm timetable on when the articles will be presented for a full vote on the House floor. According to previous reports, such a vote was expected by Christmas. Indeed, it may likely be voted on as early as next week.
It would take a simple majority vote — 51 votes — for the House to impeach Trump. Considering that Democrats hold a 233-197 majority in the House, it’s considered likely that Trump will be impeached.
From there, he would go to a trial in the Senate. There, it would require a supermajority vote — two-thirds of votes — to remove him from office. Republicans control the Senate by a 53-47 majority. In order to remove Trump from office, every Democrat in the Senate plus 20 Republicans would have to cast such a vote, which is considered unlikely.