President Trump entered the history books in a new category Wednesday: He is the third president in U.S. history to have been impeached by the House. The two votes on impeachment bring to an end the House’s months-long inquiry into whether Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to conduct investigations that would benefit him politically.
The House spent Wednesday debating the two impeachment articles on the House floor. The first article accused Trump of abusing his power by leveraging the federal government and taxpayer money for his personal and political gain, and the second accused him of obstructing the congressional inquiry into his actions on Ukraine.
Republicans who spoke almost universally accused Democrats of looking for an excuse to impeach Trump, while Democrats argued that Trump’s conduct regarding Ukraine necessitated impeachment.
Both articles passed, meaning Trump is impeached. The article on abuse of power passed 230 to 197, and the one on obstruction passed 229 to 198.
But he’s not removed from office. The Senate determines whether that will happen.
A president who has been impeached by the House can still serve as president. It’s up to the Senate to hold a trial to decide whether to remove him from office. The two other presidents impeached by the House, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, were both acquitted by the Senate.
The Constitution only says that the Senate has to hold a trial, with the senators sitting as jurors, House lawmakers serving as prosecutors known as managers, and the chief justice of the United States presiding over it. Senators must take a public vote, and two-thirds of those present must agree on whether to convict the president and thus remove him from office. But the Constitution doesn’t lay out exactly how to hold a trial.
If Trump is convicted on even one count, the Constitution says he has to be removed from office. Senators could take yet another vote to prevent him from running for office ever again.
What is the likelihood of the Senate convicting Trump?
It’s low. House Republicans displayed remarkable unity during the impeachment process — none of them voted for impeachment. Outside Congress, Trump remains popular among his base. Against that backdrop, it’s hard to see mass defections among Senate Republicans to override their party’s voters and kick the president out of office.
A mass defection by members of his own party is what it would take to convict Trump and remove him from office. Twenty of the 53 Republican senators would need to join all Democratic-voting senators to reach the two-thirds supermajority the Constitution requires for impeachment. We count 14 who have expressed at least some level of concern with Trump’s behavior on Ukraine policy.
Source: Washington Post