Trump impeachment: What happens next?

What happens next?.

The Democrat controlled Congress has voted to impeach Donald Trump, making him the third president in history to face an impeachment trial, after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. What happens now?

After impeachment by the House, the Senate holds a trial, presided over by the chief justice of the supreme court, to decide if Mr Trump should be removed from office. A panel of representatives from the House act as prosecutors and the senators as a jury. A two-thirds majority is required for his removal.

Is there any precedent for removing a US president from office?

No. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, the two previous presidents impeached by the House for “high crimes and misdemeanours”, were each acquitted by the Senate – Johnson by one vote in 1868. Later that year he failed to be nominated for a second term. The Senate has previously voted to remove judges from office using the same procedure. Since 1803, eight have been removed out of 15 the House voted to impeach. One supreme court justice has been impeached but he was not removed.

What happened at the last Senate impeachment trial?

President Clinton faced trial on two articles of impeachment, perjury and obstruction of justice, in January 1999. The House had approved two charges on December 19, 1998, though not entirely along party lines. Lindsey Graham, now a South Carolina senator and Trump supporter, was among Republican congressmen who served as prosecutors. Mr Clinton was acquitted of both charges in early February. He was cleared of obstruction on a 50-50 vote in the Republican-controlled chamber and by a vote of 45-55 on perjury. Two Republican senators who crossed party lines in 1999, Susan Collins of Maine and Richard Shelby of Alabama, will sit in the jury in Mr Trump’s trial.

How might Mr Trump’s trial unfold?

Democrats, who are in the minority in the Senate, want to present witnesses the White House blocked from testifying in the House, including John Bolton, the former national security adviser, and Mick Mulvaney, the chief of staff.

The Republicans have refused the request. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said he will co-ordinate with the White House to set rules for votes and hearings. Both sides have said they want to see a speedy trial.

Mr Trump has said he wants Republicans to bring forward their own witnesses. They include the whistleblower who reported Mr Trump’s phone call with President Zelensky, in which Mr Trump suggested that the Ukrainian leader open an investigation against his political rival Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

Mr Trump alleged that the younger Mr Biden, who worked as an adviser to a Ukrainian energy firm, was engaged in corruption.

Will Mr Trump be removed from office?

Not by this Senate, it seems. Republicans are in the majority and there is no sign that enough of them will abandon Mr Trump to meet the two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, needed.

Who will emerge as winners and losers?

Centrists in both parties are at the highest risk. Democrats in the House who flipped districts Mr Trump won in 2016 have said that they could lose their seats, while moderate Republican senators such as Ms Collins are under pressure.

Five senators running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination will be forced to take time away from the campaign trail to sit for the trial, likely spoiling halting their momentum just before primary votes in Iowa and New Hampshire.

An acquittal for Mr Trump may well energise his base, but do damage in the Senate, where 23 Republican seats are up for re-election next year.

Source: The Australian


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