What Happens Next in the Impeachment Inquiry

Republicans are gearing up for battle
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2019 6:21 AM CDT
What Happens Next in the Impeachment Inquiry
Protesters with "Kremlin Annex" call to impeach President Trump in Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Now that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has declared the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry, President Trump faces the possibility of joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as one of the few presidents to be impeached in American history—but whether the GOP-controlled Senate will vote to convict him is a very different story. In a look at the process, ABC reports that while it will take only a simple majority in the Democrat-controlled House to impeach the president if the House Judiciary Committee passes the articles of impeachment, removing Trump from office will require a highly unlikely two-thirds majority in the GOP-controlled Senate—and he would still be able to run again in 2020. When Clinton was impeached in 1999, the process from the launch of an inquiry to acquittal by the Senate took around three months. More:

  • "Nothing has changed." Democrats say that Pelosi's announcement merely jolted a process that has been underway since July, Politico reports. Six House panels investigating Trump will turn their findings over to the Judiciary Committee, which will draw up articles of impeachment if the findings support it, but lawmakers say Pelosi did not give them a time frame. Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the committee, says Pelosi's announcement "changes absolutely nothing" and until the full House votes on it, "merely claiming the House is conducting an impeachment inquiry doesn’t make it so."

  • The Senate possibilities. Analysts say that as things stand, there is very little chance of Senate Republicans voting to remove Trump. The Washington Post notes that according to Obama-era White House counsel Bob Bauer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might be able to buck tradition and refuse to even hold a trial. The Hill reports that GOP senators vowed Tuesday to quash articles of impeachment that reach the chamber.
  • The tipping point. The AP looks at the developments that led Pelosi to call for impeachment after long advising caution. Many moderate Democrats came out in favor of impeachment after reports that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine before pressuring the country's president to investigate Joe Biden. "Now is the time to act," civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis told the House. "To delay or to do otherwise would betray the foundation of our democracy."
  • Immediate next steps. Politico reports that Trump has reversed his position and approved releasing the whistleblower complaint that ignited the controversy to Congress. Trump says he has also approved the release of a transcript of the July 25 conversation with Ukraine's President Volodymr Zelensky that led to the complaint. The transcript is expected to be made public Wednesday.
  • Republicans gear up for a fight. The Guardian reports that as soon as Pelosi announced the inquiry, Republicans rushed to "weaponize" the development against Democrats—and Biden in particular. Trump allies including Rudy Giuliani renewed calls for corruption allegations against Biden to be investigated, while the Trump campaign urged supporters to donate generously to the "Official Impeachment Defense Task Force."

  • Risky move for Pelosi? According to a Monmouth University poll taken weeks before the Ukraine developments, a majority of voters oppose impeaching Trump, despite his relative unpopularity, NBC notes. With the inquiry, Pelosi risks alienating voters who feel it should be up the public to decide next year whether Trump stays or goes.
  • Reaction from Trump. Trump denounced the "total Witch Hunt"' and "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT" on Twitter within minutes of Pelosi making the announcement. He later tweeted a series of clips from Fox News, thanking hosts including Lou Dobbs.
  • Was this inevitable? Analysts say the move toward impeachment has long been anticipated by Trump, and may have been inevitable despite Pelosi's hesitancy. "We have been headed here inexorably," University of North Carolina impeachment scholar Michael J. Gerhardt tells the New York Times. "The president has pushed and pushed his powers up to and beyond the normal boundaries. He’s been going too far for some time, but even for him this most recent misconduct is beyond what most of us, or most scholars, thought was possible for a president to do."
(Read more Trump impeachment stories.)

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