DemDaily: The Impeachment Rollout

November 1, 2019

On Thursday, October 31, 2019, the US House of Representatives formally voted to move forward with impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

(Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast)

The 232 to 196 vote, primarily along party lines, moves into the open public phase of the inquiry, which is expected to begin this month.

The vote follows five weeks of committee investigation after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on September 24th that the House was launching an impeachment inquiry.

The primary subject of the proceedings involve the Ukraine-Trump scandal which began with a whistleblower complaint filed by a member of the intelligence community alleging corrupt actions committed by the President in his conversation with a foreign leader.

Trump, however, has already been the subject of a Special Counsel's investigation, and six ongoing House Committees investigations involving other allegedly corrupt actions, which touched off criminal inquiries at the federal state and local levels. All involve President Donald Trump, his associates, campaign, inauguration, family and businesses.

Over the last few weeks, Democratic and Republican House members on the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees, have heard over 100 hours of closed-door testimony from 13 of the administration's top security and foreign policy advisors. Several of those were on the phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which triggered the whistleblower scandal.

National Security Council Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified the "transcript" of the Trump-Zelensky call had been doctored (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Thursday's procedural vote allows the House to publicly release some of the closed door depositions as early as Monday.

Eight witnesses are scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee next week, including White House lawyers, senior National Security Counsel staff and former National Security Advisor John Bolton. Few, however, are expected to appear, risking further legal action.

Regardless, it appears Democrats are confident enough of their trove of purportedly damning testimony and evidence against the President to begin taking their case to the American people.

What's Next
The impeachment resolution, H.R 660, also outlines the procedures that will guide the inquiry, including public evidence hearings before the House Intelligence Committee and guidelines for witnesses, the President and his defense.

House Impeachment Resolution 660 (Click/Full Text)

House leadership hope to conclude the phase of the public fact-finding hearings by Thanksgiving, thus providing the House Judiciary Committee roughly three weeks to draft and debate articles of impeachment for a vote before Christmas.

How It Works
The House of Representatives, controlled by the Democrats 235-199 (plus one independent), has the sole power to impeach a president, which requires a majority (50+1%) or 218 votes.

However, removal from office is contingent upon trial and conviction by the United States Senate, which is controlled by Republicans 53 to Democrats' 47 (including two independents), and requires a 2/3 vote. It would take 67 votes to convict the President, which means that if every Democrat voted for conviction, 20 Republicans would have to cross over to remove Trump from office.

"The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors." -- Article II of the United States Constitution, Section 4

If Trump were to leave office before his term is out, the White House goes, in order of succession, to Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, then President Pro Tempore of the Senate Chuck Grassley.

Trump is the fourth US President in history to be the subject of an official impeachment inquiry. Only two US Presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868, and Bill Clinton in 1998. In both cases the Senate failed to convict. Impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon were commenced in 1974, but he resigned from office before the full House voted.

An October 27-29, 2019 ABCNews/Washington Post poll (Margin of Error 3.7%) showed Americans are split on the question of Congress impeaching and removing Trump from office, with 49% in favor and 47% opposed.

In the same poll, 55% thought Trump did "something wrong" in his dealings with Ukraine while 47% thought it was "seriously wrong." Only 35% said he did nothing wrong, with 10% undecided.



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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: USHouse, NewYorkTimes, ABC

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