Pelosi Announces House Democrats Will Launch Trump Impeachment Probe
Should President Donald Trump be impeached?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced Tuesday that Democrats will launch a formal impeachment probe of President Donald Trump this week because of his request that the Ukrainian government investigate corruption allegations involving Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden.
At a press conference, Pelosi said:
"This week, the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically... The actions of the Trump presidency reveal the dishonorable fact of the president's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections. Therefore, today, I'm announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I'm directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella."
Previously, Pelosi resisted calls for impeachment out of concern for political blowback, and in mid-July a majority of her caucus voted against articles of impeachment put forward by Rep. Al Green (D-TX) that were backed by only 95 Democrats. Two weeks ago, she again refused to call for impeachment, even as the House Judiciary Committee set guidelines for its impeachment probe.
But while the pro-impeachment ranks grew modestly in the weeks after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony in late July, recent news of the whistleblower complaint caused support for an impeachment inquiry to heat up among many moderate Democrats. As of midday Tuesday, at least 163 lawmakers (including one Independent) were in support of an impeachment inquiry.
During a meeting at the United Nations with the Iraqi president that was open to the press, President Donald Trump responded to reports of growing Democratic support for an impeachment probe:
“[T]he country’s doing the best it’s ever done, and I just heard that [Pelosi would] like to impeach… If she does that, they all say that’s a positive for me in the election. You could also say: who needs it, it’s bad for the country.”
How does impeachment work?
The impeachment process is outlined by Article I, Section 3 and Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. Here's how it works:
- The House of Representatives is first to consider the articles of impeachment, which can include charges of treason, bribery, or other “high crimes and misdemeanors” (which can be political offenses, rather than criminal). A simple majority vote is required to approve the articles of impeachment, which is 218 votes when the House is at its full complement of representatives.
- The Senate could then choose to conduct an impeachment trial before the full Senate or a committee of senators. If it’s the president on trial, as opposed to a judge or another federal official, the trial would be under the supervision of the Supreme Court’s chief justice instead of the vice president. A two-thirds majority vote (ordinarily 67 votes) is required to convict and remove the impeached official from office.
Within the House of Representatives, the modern era presidential impeachment investigations of Bill Clinton & Richard Nixon (who resigned before the full House impeached him) began after the House agreed to resolutions specifically authorizing an impeachment inquiry. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has argued that voting on an authorizing resolution would be unnecessary in this case on the grounds that his committee is already engaged in an impeachment investigation, but House Republicans disagree based on the recent precedent. Its unclear whether the full House will consider such a resolution, or if it will rely on Pelosi's guidance.
The Constitution doesn’t explicitly require the Senate to carry out a trial if articles of impeachment are approved by the House, so senators may attempt to use parliamentary rules to table the impeachment articles. However, the only two presidents to be impeached by the House ― Andrew Johnson & Bill Clinton ― were acquitted by the Senate after their trials.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: White House / Public Domain)
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