The House impeached Trump. What happens next?

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Donald Trump

President Donald Trump gestures as he arrives at a campaign rally in Hershey, Pa., Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump on Wednesday, the third time in history it has taken this action against a president.

The Democratic-controlled House voted 230 to 197 (with one present vote) largely along party lines on the first article, abuse of power. All but three Democrats supported his impeachment, and all of the Republicans rejected it. On the second question of obstruction of Congress, the vote was 229 to 198, with one member voting present. 

But the impeachment process isn’t over yet. It now moves to the Republican-controlled Senate. Here are the next steps:

Pick House managers

There are a few procedural steps to be taken before the House sends the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

The chamber must agree on who will be the “House managers” who will conduct the impeachment trial in the Senate. The House impeachment managers act as prosecutors and present the case against Mr. Trump. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can now name the managers at any point, and the House will then debate and vote on the resolution naming the managers. Some names have already been floated by Democrats, including Representative Justin Amash, an independent from Michigan who left the Republican Party earlier this year. The House adjourned Wednesday evening a little before 9 p.m. without settling this matter yet. It could wait until a later date to name the House managers. 

After this is completed, the House will then formally deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate, which must immediately act on them.

Prepare for trial

After the Senate has received the articles, it must notify the House when the managers can present them — that is, to read them — to the Senate.

After House managers present the articles of impeachment on the Senate floor, they leave until the Senate invites them back for the trial.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the trial would likely happen in January, “right around the time the bowl games end.” For those who aren’t college football fans, the last bowl game is expected to be played on January 6.

Hold a trial

The Constitution offers vague guidelines for how an impeachment trial should be conducted: The senators act as jurors, House members as prosecutors, and the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides.

The rest of the rules are up to the Senate. A simple majority of the Senate must agree on whether to call witnesses, what kind of evidence to admit, and how long to make the trial. In the event that there’s a tie on questions regarding evidence and witnesses, Chief Justice John Roberts would cast the tie-breaking vote, the Senate’s guidelines suggest.

“The presiding officer (the chief justice) may rule on all questions of evidence, including, but not limited to, questions of relevancy, materiality, and redundancy of evidence and incidental questions,” the guidelines say.

McConnell has expressed interest in having a quick trial without witnesses, but Senator Charles Schumer, the minority leader, wants to hear from four administration officials who were asked to testify in the House impeachment inquiry but did not appear: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton, senior adviser to the Acting White House chief of staff Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, associate director for National Security, Office of Management and Budget.

Vote

After the trial concludes, the Senate will conduct a public vote on whether to convict the president and remove him from office. 

Two-thirds of senators’ support is required for that to happen. 

Given the Republican majority in the Senate, McConnell believes Mr. Trump will be acquitted and will remain in office.

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