September 25, 2019

Donald Trump impeachment - what happens next and will he be convicted?
Donald Trump is to face a formal impeachment inquiry after Democrats claimed he violated the US Constitution, plunging a deeply divided nation into an election-year clash between Congress and the commander in chief. The US president accused Democrats of another political "witch hunt", and previewed his defence in an all-caps tweet: "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!". The impeachment inquiry, after months of investigations by House Democrats of the Trump administration, sets up the party's most direct and consequential confrontation with the president, injects deep uncertainty into the 2020 election campaign and tests anew the nation's constitutional system of checks and balances. So what happens next? What are the allegations against Donald Trump? A whistleblower in the US intelligence community has made an internal complaint. He - it is a man - alleges that Mr Trump, in a July 25 phone call, urged the leader of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden who sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. Read more | Donald Trump impeachment inquiry Why have the Democrats launched impeachment proceedings? The Democrats claim Mr Trump's alleged actions show he violated the Constitution by inviting help from a foreign power in a domestic election. What is impeachment? Impeachment is a process by which senior US executive officials, including the president and vice-president, can be removed from office for abuses. It is part of the system of checks and balances set out in the Constitution. The House of Representatives has the sole power to launch impeachment proceedings. That can ultimately lead to the US Senate hosting a trial of the president.   How far has the process gone so far? About | Impeachment Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat speaker of the House, on Tuesday announced a formal impeachment inquiry. Six Democrat-led House committees have already been carrying out various ad hoc investigations of Mr Trump. Those will now be gathered under the umbrella of one formal impeachment inquiry, conducted by the House judiciary committee. The judiciary committee will then decide if there are grounds for impeachment. Only a simple majority on the judiciary committee is needed to go ahead. If there is a majority, the judiciary committee will draw up articles of impeachment, essentially formal charges against the president. The articles would then be passed to the full House, which debates and votes. Again, only a simple majority is needed, on each article. The Democrats are in the majority in the House. Nancy Pelosi announces the impeachment inquiry Credit: REX What happens if the House votes to impeach? The articles of impeachment then form the basis of a trial in the senate. Mr Trump would stand trial. Would Mr Trump be convicted? That is the big question. A two thirds "supermajority" is needed in the 100-member senate to convict. If convicted Mr Trump would be removed from office. But Republicans are in the majority in the Senate. It would take a significant number of Republican senators to vote with the Democrats to convict Mr Trump. Donald Trump impeachment | How will it happen? How many other presidents have been impeached? Certainly two - Andrew Johnson in the 19th Century, and Bill Clinton. There is debate over whether Richard Nixon was impeached. The committee voted to send articles of impeachment to the full House. But Mr Nixon resigned before there was a full House vote. Mr Clinton survived impeachment. He was not convicted in a Senate that was dominated by Democrats. Mr Johnson also survived his Senate trial, by just one vote. That means no president has ever been convicted in the Senate. Bill Clinton survived impeachment Credit: AP What can a president be impeached for? According to the Constitution the president "shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." It seems probable that, if Mr Trump were to face articles of impeachment, they would fall under "high Crimes and Misdemeanors." Who would be the next president? If President Trump is impeached and removed from office, which at the moment is highly unlikely, Vice President Mike Pence would simply take over.
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