Impeachment: What Happens Next

The timeline is unclear after Pelosi's surprise comments
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2019 8:00 AM CST
Impeachment: What Happens Next
President Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019.   (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Democratic-controlled House voted almost entirely along party lines Wednesday night to make Donald Trump the first Republican president in US history to be impeached—and analysts don't expect things to get any less partisan in the weeks to come. Trump will go on trial in the Senate next year, but the timing is now unclear: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after Wednesday's vote that Democrats are considering holding off on sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate because they are concerned that the trial will not be a fair one. More:

  • The next steps. Before the process can move to the Senate, the House needs to appoint impeachment managers to present the case. Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff and Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler are seen as likely candidates. Rep. Justin Amash, an independent who left the Republican Party and voted for impeachment, may also be included to "confer some bipartisan credibility on the Democrats' case," the Guardian reports.

  • Acquittal expected. With Republicans holding 53 of the 100 seats in the Senate and a two-thirds supermajority required to remove Trump from office, an acquittal is widely expected—a conviction would require 20 Republican senators to switch sides. But the process is likely to "further aggravate the political and cultural fault lines in the country" that Trump's presidency "has brought into dramatic relief," the New York Times reports.
  • Support for a delay. Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer says he has taken the idea of a delay to every member of House leadership and there has been a lot of interest, including from Pelosi, Politico reports. "As long as we have the articles of impeachment under our control, we have an opportunity to prevent a travesty," he says.
  • Trial negotiations. In a look at how a Senate trial would work, the Washington Post notes that a majority of senators will have to agree on rules for a trial, which are not set out in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants a speedy trial with no witnesses called, though he may reach a compromise with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to avoid a public battle. After rules are agreed upon and a trial begins, senators, including those currently on the campaign trail, will work six days a week.
  • Trump's legacy. Trump has downplayed the importance of impeachment, arguing that his opponents are the ones who look bad, but historians say the stain on his legacy will be permanent, the AP reports. "It'll be impossible to look back at this presidency and not discuss impeachment. It is permanently tied to his record,” says Princeton University presidential historian Julian Zelizer. "Ukraine will be his Watergate. Ukraine will be his Lewinsky." Rice University presidential historian Douglas Brinkley agrees that impeachment is a "medallion of shame," but notes that the impeachment will "look smaller" if Trump wins the election this year and becomes the first impeached president to be re-elected.
(More Trump impeachment stories.)

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