House Judiciary Committee Approves Articles of Impeachment — What Happens Next?
The House Judiciary Committee approved draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Friday morning, following a contentious 14-hour-long debate the day before between Democratic and Republican lawmakers on the panel.
“Today is a solemn and sad day,” committee chair Rep. Jerry Nadler said, according to ABC News. “For the third time in a little over a century and a half, the House Judiciary Committee has voted articles of impeachment against the president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The House will act expeditiously.”
The charges of abuse of power stem from allegations from House investigators that Trump attempted to coerce Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and his government to open investigations into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, among other investigatory demands. Democrats called current and former Trump administration witnesses forward in weeks of impeachment inquiry hearings, who described the president’s actions as meant to benefit himself politically rather than acting in the interests of the American people.
Obstruction charges have come about due to the president refusing to allow members of his administration who were subpoenaed by investigators to speak before the inquiry.
"Today is a solemn and sad day."
Rep. Jerry Nadler delivers remarks after the House Judiciary Committee votes to recommend two articles of impeachment, saying "the House will act expeditiously." https://t.co/bgcxhUrigE pic.twitter.com/CTPIqIE1Gh
— ABC News (@ABC) December 13, 2019
The vote within the Judiciary Committee was passed along party lines, with every Democrat voting in favor of the measure and every Republican against.
So what happens next? Following the approval of the articles of impeachment, the full House of Representatives will vote on them. For impeachment to be approved, the Constitution outlines that a simple majority vote of the House is required.
Presidents can only be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” according to the Constitution. Democrats allege that Trump’s abuse of power and obstruction charges fit in the latter category.
Following a full vote in the House of Representatives, the Senate then takes up the charges and holds a trial for the president. The presiding judge of the trial will be Chief Justice John Roberts, but aside from playing the role of judge, he has no real say in how the trial will be conducted. An indictment of the president, stemming from the charges emanating from the House, requires two-thirds of the Senate to convict.
It’s believed that Democrats have the votes necessary to send articles of impeachment to the Senate. Once there, it’s expected that the Senate will vote to acquit the president, as the votes to indict do not appear to be there.
Indeed, if every Democratic and independent senator voted for the impeachment of Trump, it would still require at least 20 Republican senators to join them in order to indict the president.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he will not allow that to happen.
“We know how it’s going to end. There’s no chance the president’s going to be removed from office,” McConnell said in an interview Thursday evening, per prior reporting from HillReporter.com.