Donald Trump impeachment: What happens next?

Donald Trump impeachment: What happens next?

After Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives, he is set to face a Senate trial, however the likelihood of him being impeached is low

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Republican members of Congress a day after the House of Representatives approved articles of impeachment against the Republican president, at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 19, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

US President Donald Trump is the third president to be impeached by the House of Representatives in the US after the House voted to adopt two articles of impeachment against President Trump. The two other presidents who were impeached by the house are Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, who were both acquitted by the Senate, once the trial began. 

The US Constitution says that the Senate, which is the upper house of the American Congress, will prosecute the President with some members of the House acting as prosecutors, also called managers. Members of the Senate will act as the jury with the chief justice of the land presiding over the trial proceedings. The Constitution, however, does not provide a time limit for the Senate trial.

The Rules of Procedure and Practice for impeachment trials that the Senate approved in 1986 sets out guidelines for how impeachment trials are to be conducted. The witnesses that are to be called and the length of the proceedings are not mentioned in the guidelines. Hence, these details are up to the senators to decide.

The likelihood of Trump being impeached is very low. The majority in the US Senate is held by Republicans with 53, Democrats with 45 and 2 Independents, of which one is Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. In order for the impeachment motion to pass, two-thirds of the Senate would need to vote against Trump, which means that all the Democrats, Independents and at least 20 Republicans need to vote against him. 

Reports suggest that House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi has held back the Articles of Impeachment from physically going over to the Senate. She told the American media on Wednesday that as the Speaker of the House, she won’t name managers of the Senate trial from the House until details of the Senate trial emerge, to verify the fairness of the trial. This could delay the trial, which President Trump wants be done with as soon as possible. Delaying the trial could put pressure on the Senate to call on witnesses to testify, such as Acting Chief of Staff Nick Mulvaney, former National Security Advisor John Bolton and others who might hurt Trump’s chances of being acquitted.

Election fever has hit the United States with less than a year left for Election Day in November 2020 and the impeachment proceedings have cast a cloud over the race for the Democratic nomination.

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