What Are Articles Of Impeachment? The House Decides What Charges Trump Will Face
On Oct. 31, the House of Representatives voted to formalize its impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, but Democrats still have a long road ahead of them before they can actually impeach Trump. The impeachment process is extensive, and raises many questions. For example, what are the articles of impeachment? Before the House can actually vote on impeachment, the House Judiciary Committee will have to draw up a list of charges on which the president can be impeached.
Now that the House has voted to formalize its impeachment inquiry, six different House committees will continue their investigations in a more public way. On Oct. 29, the House Rules Committee issued a resolution laying out how these investigations and hearings would operate, and it was that resolution the House voted to adopt on Oct. 31. But for the House to actually vote on impeachment, the Intelligence Committee must complete its investigation and send a report to the House Judiciary Committee, which will then come up with the articles of impeachment.
Simply put, the articles of impeachment is a formal document explaining the charges on which a public official might be impeached and removed from office. In Trump's case, the Judiciary Committee's articles of impeachment might address the president's alleged withholding of military aid from Ukraine, per CNN, or his alleged obstruction of justice. In response to a request for comment on these potential articles of impeachment, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told Elite Daily in an emailed statement that "the President has done nothing wrong, and the Democrats know it."
"Instead of focusing on pressing issues that impact real families, like reducing gun violence, passing the USMCA, improving healthcare, lowering prescription drug costs, securing our southern border, and modernizing our aging infrastructure, the Democrats are choosing every day to waste time on a sham impeachment — a blatantly partisan attempt to destroy the President," Grisham said in her statement.
The White House's opposition to the impeachment inquiry is unlikely to deter Democrats from pursuing it. In the past, articles of impeachment have addressed everything from Constitutional concerns to concealment of unlawful activity. In the case of former President Andrew Johnson, for example, the House adopted 11 articles of impeachment, the first of which stated that he had violated the Tenure of Office Act. And when the House brought an impeachment case against former President Bill Clinton, it adopted two articles of impeachment. The House also approved three articles of impeachment against former President Richard Nixon, but he resigned before he could be impeached.
There are several things that need to happen before the Judiciary Committee can draw up the articles of impeachment against Trump. First, the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees, along with four other committees, must complete their investigations into Trump and his administration. Then, these committees must write up reports summarizing any solid evidence they uncover of Trump committing impeachable offenses. After that, the Judiciary Committee has to decide whether or not the committee investigations yielded sufficient evidence to draw up articles of impeachment. The Judiciary Committee will only draw up and recommend articles of impeachment to the full House if the committees' findings contain sufficient evidence of wrongdoing, per The New York Times.
Once it has drawn up the articles of impeachment, the Judiciary Committee will have to vote on each article. Only articles that receive a majority vote in the Judiciary Committee will be passed along to the rest of the House. Once the House takes up the articles of impeachment, it will debate and vote on each one. If the House obtains a majority vote of more than 50% on even one of the articles, then Trump will be impeached.
Even if the House does successfully impeach Trump, he won't automatically be removed from office. Instead, the Senate will have to organize an impeachment trial. During this trial, senators will be tasked with voting on whether or not to convict Trump on the impeachable offenses voted on by the House. Trump will only be removed from office if 67 senators — a two-thirds majority — vote to convict him.
As indicated above, Democratic lawmakers have a long set of procedures to follow before they can even get to an impeachment vote in the House. Despite the lengthy process preceding an impeachment vote, however, a coalition of progressive activists is already planning a massive protest to take place the night before the House votes on articles of impeachment, in order to demand Trump's impeachment. In the weeks to come, voters can expect to learn more about what impeachable offenses the president may have allegedly committed and what lawmakers plan to include in the articles of impeachment.