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What is Impeachment and How Does it Work?

President Donald J. Trump has been impeached by the House of Representatives, bringing the months-long investigation into his actions regarding Ukraine aid to a climax.

By Ian Nugent in goings on · Dec 26
Photo via Unsplash user Jørgen Håland

President Donald J. Trump has been impeached by the House of Representatives, bringing the months-long investigation into his actions regarding Ukraine aid to a climax. This is the third such instance in the history of the United States of America. Now, the Articles of Impeachment move to a trial in the Senate.


The Quid Pro Quo

Quid pro quo is Latin for this for that. Donald Trump’s impeachment is predicated on a whistleblower report asserting that he made roughly $400 million in military aid dollars destined for Ukraine, funds earmarked by Congress, and a much sought after White House photo-op during Ukraine’s President Zelensky announcement of an investigation into Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

Following this revelation, there was a closed-door investigation pre-dating any presentation of a Resolution of Impeachment. Then, we arrived at the impeachment process.


The Impeachment

  1. The journey begins in the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee when a majority voted for an Inquiry of Impeachment resolution.
  2. Following the passing of an Inquiry for Impeachment within the House’s Judiciary Committee, a vote took place with all members of the House of Representatives to pass said Inquiry for Impeachment. Once passed, this authorizes and funds the House’s judiciary committee to investigate if there are grounds for impeachment.
  3. The House’s Judiciary Committee, along with others such as the House’s Intelligence Committee, investigate the President.
  4. Following the conclusion of the investigation, the House’s Judiciary Committee voted to decide if there is sufficient evidence to issue a Resolution for Impeachment, which presents allegations of misconduct specified in the Articles of Impeachment.
  5. The Resolution for Impeachment goes to the floor for a vote on the Articles of Impeachment. If the House adopts any or all Articles of Impeachment, the President is “impeached.”
House Judiciary Chair Nadler (D-NY) and ranking member Collins (R-GA)

House Judiciary Chair Nadler (D-NY) and ranking member Collins (R-GA).

On Sep. 12, the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee took the first steps by initiating the impeachment process through passing an Inquiry of Impeachment resolution. This resolution outlines the boundaries of the impeachment investigation which is then introduced to the House floor for a full vote.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi leaving her weekly press conference in advance of The House’s impending Inquiry of Impeachment vote.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi leaving her weekly press conference in advance of The House’s impending Inquiry of Impeachment vote.

On Oct. 31, The House of Representatives voted 232-196 passing a resolution to formalize their impeachment inquiry into President Trump. At the time of the vote, only two Democratic Party affiliates voted no: Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey.

Ambassador Yovanovitch testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee.

Ambassador Yovanovitch testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee.

The House’s impeachment investigation, led by Adam Schiff’s Intelligence Committee and Jerrod Nadler’s Judiciary Committee, comprised interviews of top aides, government officials, and career government officials.

The House Judiciary Committee contemplates their Resolution for Impeachment.

The House Judiciary Committee contemplates their Resolution for Impeachment.


The Senate Trial

A successful impeachment is like an indictment with the Articles of Impeachment as the charges. With The House of Representatives withholding the Articles of Impeachment, we await the next steps. Now, a trial takes place in the Senate.

  1. The trial starts with a summons issued to the president who is now the Defendant. The Senate issues the president their charges as well as the date to which they have to answer.
  2. The trial in the Senate happens with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding. The House’s representation functions as the Prosecution while the president and their counsel are the Defense. Functioning as a typical trial, both sides are allowed to introduce evidence and witnesses who are subject to cross-examination.
  3. The Senate deliberates in a closed session.
  4. The Senate votes publically to convict the President on the Articles of Impeachment with a two-thirds vote needed for removal from office.
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