So, Trump Has Been Impeached: What Happens Next?

But Trump still remains the US president; he can only be removed from office if the Senate votes him out.

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US President Donald Trump.
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On Wednesday, 18 December (local time), Donald Trump became the third president of the United States, after Andrew Johnson (1868) and Bill Clinton (1998), to be impeached by the House.

The House of Representatives – the lower house of the US Congress – voted against Trump on two counts (officially called ‘articles of impeachment’):

  1. Abuse of power: the House voted 230-197 to impeach
  2. Obstruction of Congress: the House voted 229-198 to impeach

But Trump still remains the US president; he can only be removed from office if the Senate (the upper house) votes to impeach as well.

So here’s what’s next in Trump’s impeachment saga:

STEP 1: IMPEACHMENT MANAGERS

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, must now select a team of “impeachment managers,” from within the House, who will make a case against Donald Trump and act as prosecutors in the US Senate trial.

The intelligence committee chair, Adam Schiff, the judiciary chair, Jerry Nadler, and former Republican Justin Amash are likely candidates, according to The Guardian.

Once the team is prepared, Pelosi will transfer the articles of impeachment to the Senate. However, the Speaker hasn’t made it clear when this would be – she may be waiting to get certain assurances about the fairness of a trial, since the Upper House is dominated by Republicans, reports The New York Times.

STEP 2: THE SENATE TRIAL

The majority leader in the US Senate, Mitch McConnell, said that if the House impeaches Trump, a Senate trial will have to be “the first item of business” in January.

The US Constitution leaves a lot of details up to the Senate to decide, such as whether to call witnesses, the presentation of evidence, and the duration of the trial. Before the trial happens, a majority of Senators will need to agree on the rules.

The US Senate has a total of 100 members – two representatives from each state. In order to remove President Trump from office, at least two-thirds of the Senate (67 Senators) would have to vote against him.

Trump will likely not be impeached in the Senate, because there are 53 Republicans in the Senate, and 20 of them would have to jump ship and side with the Democrats to achieve the required majority.

To put it into perspective, not one Republican in the House of Representatives voted for the impeachment. McConnell has also indicated that the trial will be short and there’s a distinct possibility that no witnesses are called, reports The Washington Post.

The US Supreme Court’s Chief Justice, John Roberts, will oversee the trial and – if a conflict arises – could rule on whether the proceedings comply with the rules that were decided beforehand.

If, somehow, Trump is removed from office, Vice President Mike Pence will assume his place, till the term ends on 20 January 2021.

(With inputs from The Guardian, The New York Times and The Washington Post)

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