WASHINGTON — The vote by the House of Representatives to impeach President Donald Trump marked just the third time in history that a president has been impeached.
Despite how long it took the House to reach this point, it's just the first step in another process that has not been seen in more than two decades.
The impeachment of President Trump for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power came one day before the 21st anniversary of the last impeachment in US history. That was December 19, 1998, House vote to impeach President Bill Clinton. His impeachment is the only modern template for what should happen in the coming weeks and months.
Assuming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sends the articles of impeachment to the Senate, the next step is a trial.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts would preside over the trial. Members of the House serve as what are known as “managers.” Think of them as the prosecutors. The president would have his own defense team as well if he chooses to take part in the trial. The 100 members of the senate are the jury.
The members of the Senate will hear evidence from the managers and possibly from witnesses. After closing arguments, they will deliberate, just like the jurors in a regular trial, before returning to the Senate vote on whether the president is guilty as charged. It is important to note that Republicans hold the majority with 53 seats.
Convicting the president requires a two-thirds majority. That means 67 senators must believe he is guilty.
If convicted, the president would be removed from office, and Vice President Mike Pence would be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
Has it ever happened before?
In February 1999 the Senate acquitted President Clinton of both articles of impeachment against him. They were for obstruction of justice and lying under oath. The claims stemmed from testimony Mr. Clinton gave about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky for a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the president by Paula Jones.
The only other impeachment came in 1868 when President Andrew Johnson faced 11 articles of impeachment. Senators voted on three of them. Each time they came one vote shy of convicting the president and removing him from office.
© 2020 © 2019 Cox Media Group