The Articles of Impeachment

Posted by on Dec 18, 2019 in Government

Last week, House Democrats formally announced two articles of impeachment against the president. After the announcement, the House Judiciary Committee spent several days discussing and revising the articles. Here, btw examines exactly what the articles are, and what the impeachment process will look like going forward.

The Impeachment Articles

The first article of impeachment against Trump accuses him of abusing his power. Over the summer, during a phone call with the Ukrainian president, Trump indicated that he would withhold military aid (which had already been approved by Congress) unless the Ukrainian leader agreed to help him dig up dirt on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The many news stories about this incident have called this bargaining a “quid pro quo,” or the exchange of one good or service for another.

The second article of impeachment involves Trump obstructing justice by refusing to cooperate with Congress during its impeachment inquiry process. According to Congressional Democrats, this obstruction undermines the very heart of democracy because it keeps Congress from being able to do its fundamental job and act as a check against the executive branch.

The Response

Predictably, many Congressional Republicans are vocally opposed to the articles of impeachment. They argue that the entire process has been flawed and illegitimate since the beginning and that the Democrats have been trying to find a way to boot Trump out of office since he was elected in November 2016.

Democrats, however, insist that the impeachment process is critical to protecting the country’s basic democratic structures and principles, which they say the president has ignored. Of course, Trump continues to call the impeachment a “witch hunt” and profess his own innocence.

What Happens Next?

First, the House Judiciary Committee will continue discussions and revisions on the bill outlining the articles of impeachment. From there, they will present it to the full House of Representatives for a vote. If the vote passes (which it is likely to, as Democrats control the House), the bill will move to the Senate–only the third time in history that such a thing has happened. Then the Senate acts as a courtroom of sorts, as the president is tried for crimes committed while in office. At the moment, it seems unlikely that the Senate would ever vote to remove the president from office, as Republicans hold a strong majority in the Senate.

The timeline, however, is not outlined as clearly as the process itself. Democrats want to move quickly for several reasons. First, they say, they don’t want to waste any more time or taxpayer resources. Second, they are aware that the 2020 presidential election is looming, and don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize the integrity of that process. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he is planning for the trial to take place as soon as January.

Dig Deeper If the vote to impeach passes the House, it will be only the third time in U.S. history that such a thing has happened. What were the other two?