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Trump Impeachment 1

Last Updated:2019-Dec-26
Principal Writer:Rob Dennis and Barry Shatzman

Issue Sections

Understanding The Issue
Public Hearings
More Information
The Rumor Mill

Reported News

Foreign Influence
President: Donald Trump

Related Bills

Impeaching Donald Trump

2019 (HRes-755)

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Why impeachment of Donald Trump?

On Sept. 24, 2019, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives would begin an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

The announcement was the result of the revelation that Trump had withheld military aid for Ukraine unless Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to help Trump with his re-election campaign.

The aid - much of which goes to U.S. defense contractors - had been allocated by Congress and approved by the Department of Defense (DoD). By withholding it, the Trump Administration likely violated the 1976 Impoundment Control Act.

The aid also was withheld in spite of Russia's lethal attacks during the time.

Trump similarly denied a White House meeting for Zelensky unless Zelensky announced an investigation into one of the Democratic party's potential nominees for the 2020 presidential election.

On Dec. 18, 2019, the House of Representatives passed two articles of impeachment against Trump based on those circumstances and his attempts to obstruct the investigation.

In this issue we explain what you need to know about the third presidential impeachment in U.S. history.

The sections that follow link to news stories, documents, and transcripts that explain how each step of the process got to where it is.

Impeachment process simliar to prior oversight investigations

The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment.

Though the majority party in the House effectively can conduct an impeachment inquiry however it agrees to, the House mostly will follow procedures the House's majority party has used to conduct oversight investigations for the last three decades.

The process in the current investigation consists of two stages...

o An impeachment investigation by the House Intelligence Committee. The inquiry will consist of closed-door depositions from members of the Trump administration, followed by public hearings with most of the same people who provided the depositions.

o An impeachment hearing by the House Judiciary Committee, deciding whether the evidence found in the investigation merits impeaching the President.

How fair is the process?

President Trump and many Congressional Republicans have complained about the process. Many of those points - such as whether a he can have an attorney representing his interests - were set and continued by then-majority House Republicans.

It also should be kept in perspective that the impeachment inquiry is simply that - a fact-finding exercise.

Should the House actually impeach the President, a trial would be held in the Senate where the President likely would be afforded all reasonable tools to demonstrate why he should not be removed from office.

At the time of this writing, the House had yet to decide on whether Trump should be impeached. The vote to impeach Trump took place on Dec. 18.

How would the trial work?

The impeachment trial begins on Jan. 21. Key elements include...

Senate determines rules

The Senate will determine the rules the trial will follow - including what witnesses can be called and what documents can be subpoenaed.

Opening arguments

House impeachment managers will have a total of up to 24 hours to make the case to remove Trump from office. They can spread those hours out over 3 days.

Trump's defense team then will have a total of up to 24 hours (also spread out over 3 days).


o Senators will have up to 16 hours to ask questions. The questions will be written, and read by Chief Justice John Roberts. Roberts will decide which questions to read, and which side to direct them to.

Witnesses and documents

The Senate then will have another chance to decide whether to subpoena witnesses and documents.

Any witnesses called would provide a deposition in private sessions with the impeachment managers and Trump's defense team. The Senate then would vote on whether to have each witness testify in the open to the Senate.


Finally, senators would vote on each article of impeachment.

Click here to continue to the next section of this issue...

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