Donald Trump on Thursday became the third president in US history to be impeached.
Three months ago, House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, announced an impeachment inquiry against the US President on 24 September.
Congress then started investigations into an alleged plot by Trump to use the power of his office to solicit interference from Ukraine in the 2020 election.
On Thursday, Democrats approved two articles of impeachment against Trump: one for abuse of power, and one for obstruction of Congress.
So, what next for Trump and America?
1. The selection of impeachment managers
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, must settle on a team, known as “impeachment managers”, to make the case against Trump in a Senate trial to begin next month. Prime candidates are Adam Schiff, the intelligence committee chair, and Jerry Nadler, the judiciary chair. Another name to have been floated: Justin Amash, the Michigan independent who broke with the Republican party over Trump. His presence on the slate would confer some bipartisan credibility on the Democrats’ case.
2. Referral of impeachment to the Senate
The transfer of impeachment from the House to the Senate is expected to happen in short order. But some Trump critics have urged Pelosi to consider not transferring the case immediately to the Senate, where the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has made clear his wishes to dismiss the case without calling witnesses. But with Democrats mostly arguing that the impeachment case is urgent in order to stop Trump from striking again, stalling on the transfer could be difficult to justify.
3. The Senate trial (and likely acquittal)
McConnell has said the Senate will host a trial in January on whether to convict and remove Trump from office, as prescribed in the constitution. But McConnell and the minority leader, Chuck Schumer, have staked out opposing positions on the terms of the trial, including what witnesses will be called and evidence admitted.
There is a bare-bones set of rules governing the process, but most of the substance is up for negotiation. The supreme court’s chief justice, John Roberts, is to preside at the trial and could rule to break certain logjams – or he might not.
A two-thirds majority of senators would be required to remove Trump from office. That’s not likely to happen, given Republicans’ 53-seat majority and senior party figures’ public statements that they plan on acquitting Trump.
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