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How Trump’s impeachment case has unfolded and what’s left

Only two U.S. presidents have been impeached by Congress — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton — and no U.S. president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. Only two other U.S. presidents had articles of impeachment advance to the full House of Representatives: Richard Nixon and Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump is the fourth president in 243-year history of the United States to face articles of impeachment. The Constitution does not prescribe a specific process and neither does federal law, leaving Congress to set its own rules. Here’s how Trump’s impeachment case has unfolded, and what to expect in the coming weeks.

Trump on trial

THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Initiation: Sept. 24, Following a whistleblower complaint, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry, directing House committees to investigate Trump’s hold on military aid to Ukraine amid a request to investigate his political rival Joe Biden.

Rules for Impeachment: Oct. 31, the House voted to approve a resolution that laid out the rules for the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. A simple majority was needed.

Judiciary Committee

On Friday, following two days of heated debate the House Judiciary Committee voted on the articles of impeachment. Each article was approved with 23 Democrats and 17 Republicans voting along party lines. A simple majority was required to approve the articles.

What’s next: Impeachment vote

The entire House of Representatives will debate and vote on the articles of impeachment next week. A simple majority is required.

The length of the next phase is unknown but some House members have said the vote will happen before Christmas.

The House may vote on all the articles as a whole or each one separately. As long as one article passed, the president would be impeached.

THE SENATE

Trial preparation: Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. would be sworn in to preside over the trial and would then swear in members of the Senate, who would act as jurors. The Senate would adopt detailed trial guidelines.

Writ of summons: The Senate would issue a summons to the president, asking him to respond to the articles of impeachment by a set date. If the president does not respond to the articles, his actions would be regarded as a plea of not guilty.

The trial: Opening statements will be made by House managers and White House defense lawyers. This could last days.

Senator questions: Both parties can take turns questioning Trump’s attorneys, House managers and any prospective witnesses.

Any senator may propose a motion to dismiss the charges, and the Senate would vote on it. A simple majority would be required and Republicans have enough votes to dismiss the case at this point.

If not dismissed

Examination of evidence: Subpoenas may be issued, evidence may be presented and witnesses may be examined and cross-examined.

Closing arguments: Two people on each side may make closing statements and then there would be a closed-door deliberation.

The Senate will vote on each article of impeachment separately. A conviction requires a two-thirds vote on one or both articles. If convicted, Trump would be removed from office.

Past presidents

In 1842, President John Tyler was the first to face an impeachment vote by the House but it was voted down.

In President Andrew Johnson’s case in 1868, the House voted to impeach him on “high crimes and misdemeanors” and notified the Senate about the impeachment before the articles were drafted.

After President Lincoln was assassinated, Vice President Andrew Johnson became president. Johnson blocked enforcement of Reconstruction Acts after the war and pardoned many ex-Rebels angering members of Congress.

In 1867, the Senate passed the Tenure of Office Act and Johnson was accused of defying the act when he dismissed Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

He was impeached by the House, 126 to 47 and the trial in the Senate lasted 11 weeks. He escaped removal from office by one vote.

In 1868, Republican Gen. Ulysses S. Grant won the presidency.

In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of Impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon.

Only after the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to release unedited tapes with excerpts of him proposing the use of the CIA to obstruct the FBI and hush-money payments to the burglars did things change.

After the tapes were made public, Nixon decided to resign.

In October 1998, the House voted 258 to 176, with 31 Democrats breaking ranks with the president, to begin a full-scale, open-ended inquiry into possible grounds for impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

In Clinton’s case, the House voted on the articles separately and approved two of the four articles presented by the Judiciary Committee.

1. Perjury in the grand jury*2. Perjury in the civil case3. Obstruction of justice*4. Abuse of power*Approved

Neither Clinton nor Johnson appeared in person but had their lawyers answer the articles of impeachment. Both Johnson and Clinton were acquitted by the Senate.

The two counts against Clinton:Perjury, 55 not guilty (10 Republicans), 45 guilty

Obstruction of justice, 50 not guilty (5 Republicans), 50 guilty

Sources: Congressional Research Service, House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents, and Procedures of the House, United States Senate, Congress.gov, Cornell’s Legal Information Institute, The New York Times, The Associated PressPhotos from The Associated Press, Wikimedia Commons

Source: Orange County Register

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