The House is preparing to cast a historic vote on two articles of impeachment against President Trump. The first is for abuse of power, related to his dealings with Ukraine, and the second is for obstructing the congressional inquiry.
Democrats hold 233 seats in the 435-member House of Representatives, to the Republican’s 197 seats. The vote is largely expected to fall along party lines and with only a simple majority vote needed, impeachment is the most likely outcome.
Asked by a reporter if he would be watching the vote in the House, Trump said he wouldn’t be.
“I’m not watching. I have not seen it. Look, it’s a hoax, the whole impeachment thing is a hoax. We look forward to getting onto the Senate. We’re not entitled to lawyers, we’re not entitled to witnesses, we’re not entitled to anything in the House,” he said.
Only two US presidents have been impeached before, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both survived the Senate trial, so neither was removed from office. Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.
On the eve of the impeachment vote in the House, Trump sent a six-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, airing his grievances about the process.
He argued that “more due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials” and that Pelosi had “cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment.”
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 18, 2019
What happens next
If Trump is impeached by the House, the case will then move to Senate. The general consensus is the Senate will start its trial as early as the second week of January 2020, after winter recess.
In the Senate trial, Trump can either be convicted or acquitted. In the trial, both sides will present their case to the senators, who act as jurors. Chief Justice John Roberts will preside as judge.
Two-thirds of the senate is needed to remove Trump from office, which is unlikely, given the Republicans enjoy a 53-47 majority.
If Trump is impeached by the House, but acquitted in the Senate, which is the most likely outcome, Trump will remain in office and will head to the election in 2020.