Presidential Impeachment Trial to Begin

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January 16, 2020

The U.S. Senate will now conduct the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and other House leaders have delivered two articles of impeachment to the Senate. The trial is expected to begin next week and last a few weeks. Yet to be determined is whether witness testimony will be included in the trial.

Impeachment managers from the House of Representatives read the entirety of the articles of impeachment on the Senate floor. Those managers are the following:

  • House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff
  • House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler
  • Congressman Jason Crow
  • Congresswoman Val Demings
  • Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia
  • Congressman Hakeem Jeffries
  • Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.

The House Intelligence Committee had conducted hearings to investigate claims that Trump had put pressure on the government of Ukraine–specifically President Volodymyr Zelensky–to announce that it was investigating Joe Biden, a former Vice-president and then a potential (since formally running for President) presidential candidate. The details of the pressure involved allegations of withholding aid until the Ukrainian government made a public announcement that it was investigating Biden and, specifically, his son Hunter's dealings in Ukraine. That was not the only investigation that Trump wanted Ukraine to announce, according to the impeachment articles. The other investigation was to be into the conduct of Ukrainian officials during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and whether those Ukrainian officials interfered with the U.S. election, which was won by Trump.

The second article of impeachment charged that the White House refused to comply with House subpoenas for information and/or testimony in connection with the impeachment investigation and, further, that the White House directed other agencies in the Executive Branch to do the same.

On Dec. 18, 2019, the House as a whole voted 230–197 to charge Trump with abuse of power and 229–198 to charge the President with obstruction of Congress.

The Chief Justice of the United States presides over an impeachment trial. If a two-thirds majority of the Senate votes to convict the individual facing impeachment, then the individual is convicted and removed from office. The Senate can further, by a simple majority, declare that the convicted individual can never again be eligible to hold public office.

In its history, the House has begun impeachment proceedings more than 60 times, but only 19 have resulted in full impeachments. Two U.S. Presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, have been impeached; both were acquitted by the Senate, Johnson in 1868 and Clinton in 1998. A third President, Richard Nixon, resigned in the face of impeachment proceedings. Another President, John Tyler, was the target of impeachment proceedings with regard to the fiery debate over states' rights, but the full House did not approve the measure.

The House has impeached one Cabinet member, one U.S. Senator, 15 federal judges. The Senate convicted eight of those judges.

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