House launches Trump impeachment inquiry
Bill Clinton was the latest US president to face impeachment. Here's a timeline of that process:
- 1994: Clinton is sued by Paula Jones for sexual harassment. Although Clinton and Jones eventually settled the suit rather than going to trial, the litigation sparked an investigation into whether Clinton obstructed justice and lied under oath. The probe centers on Clinton's relationship with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.
- 1998: After a four-year investigation, special prosecutor Kenneth Starr produces a 445-page report detailing Clinton's relationship with Lewinsky. The report lists acts that could be grounds for impeachment.
- October 8, 1998: The House approves the impeachment inquiry.
- December 19, 1998: Four articles of impeachment are set forth in the House of Representatives. Two articles are approved: One alleges that Clinton committed perjury when he told a grand jury that he did not have an affair with Lewinsky and the other alleges that Clinton coerced Lewinsky to lie under oath about their relationship.
- January 7, 1999: An impeachment trial begins in the Senate.
- February 12, 1999: Clinton is acquitted. For the perjury charge, 55 senators vote not guilty and for the obstruction of justice charge, 50 senators vote to acquit the president. Clinton serves out the rest of his term.
Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said he sees the Ukraine scandal as the “most serious misconduct" of Trump's presidency so far.
"I do see this as the most serious misconduct of the President thus far, and that comes after a long history of other very serious misconduct," he told CNN this morning.
Schiff said he wants to get "the full facts" before deciding to impeach the President. (Remember: Democrats have announced a formal impeachment inquiry, but have not yet begun possible impeachment.)
"There's certainly enough to launch a formal impeachment inquiry. And at the end of the day, they may be enough to impeach the President. But we need to get the full facts first," he said.
Of the 235 Democrats in the House, there are at least 199 — according to a CNN count — who've made clear they support starting the impeachment inquiry process, while some have gone further.
Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican who has since become an independent, has also called for impeachment proceedings, bringing the total number of representatives to 200.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said “nobody can put pressure on me” when asked if President Trump pressed him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son in a controversial July 25 phone call.
“Nobody can put pressure on me, because I’m the president of an independent Ukraine,” Zelensky said late Tuesday.
He continued: “There is only one person that can pressure me, and it’s my 6-year old son.”
Asked whether he intends to ask Trump for anything in an expected one-on-one meeting Wednesday, Zelensky said: “I can say once again that we can talk about support, but we are not asking for anything, Ukraine is a new, powerful country that isn’t asking anybody for anything, we can help others ourselves."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has not given a timeframe for this process but she told her colleagues it would be done "expeditiously," and Rep. Jerry Nadler, the current chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has hoped to conclude it by the end of the year.
This process can take months:
- For Andrew Johnson, the entire process lasted 94 days, from first congressional action to Senate acquittal, from February 22, 1868 to May 26, 1868.
- For Richard Nixon, it lasted 184 days. The House approved the impeachment inquiry on February 6, 1974 and Nixon announced his resignation on August 8, 1974.
- For Bill Clinton, it lasted 127 days. The House approved the impeachment inquiry on October 8, 1998, and the Senate acquitted him on February 12, 1999.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi held off on impeachment for months — but now some Democrats are worried the Speaker may have acted days too soon.
Several Democratic aides say that some in the caucus are quietly expressing reservations that Pelosi’s announcement came before the transcript of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s President was released and before Congress received the whistleblower’s complaint.
Many of the moderate members who have come out in support for impeachment have made their support conditional: If it is true Trump withheld military funding to Ukraine in order to elicit dirt on a political opponent, then it is impeachable.
But, Pelosi’s announcement yesterday caught some by surprise even as members were racing to come out in support of impeachment. A senior Democratic aide with insight into moderate Democratic thinking told CNN that many members preferred for Pelosi to wait until the end of the week when the contents of the complaint and transcript were fully known.
Another Democratic aide said there is grumbling about what happens if the transcript and report are not the “smoking guns that everyone is hyping them to be.”
President Trump is on Twitter this morning, continuing to lash out at Democrats, who he describes as "frozen with hatred and fear."
Here's the tweet:
Note: That was Trump's second tweet of the morning. In his first tweet of the morning, President Donald Trump recommends a book by National Review columnist Andrew McCarthy:
As President Trump has been openly feuding with House Democrats pursuing investigations into him, dozens of lawmakers — almost entirely Democrats — are calling to start an impeachment inquiry, the first step in a lengthy and likely divisive process.
While there are varying degrees of how far critics of the President are willing to push the process, one relatively basic litmus test is whether lawmakers would support starting an impeachment inquiry, the first significant step in the process.
Of the 235 Democrats in the House, there are at least 198 — according to a CNN count — who've made clear they support starting the impeachment inquiry process, while some have gone further.
Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican who has since become an independent, has also called for impeachment proceedings, bringing the total number of representatives to 199.
Behind closed doors, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not specify to her colleagues yesterday exactly how the impeachment inquiry will play out. In part, that's by design.
Here's what you need to know about what happens next:
- What committees are involved? Each of the six committees — Judiciary, Intelligence, Ways and Means, Financial Services, Oversight and Foreign Affairs — will continue with their investigations, looking at different elements of Trump's presidency, his past and his businesses. Months ago, these committees sorted out the different areas they are investigating, and many of the investigations are still charging ahead or their fights are tied up in court. If the Democrats decide to impeach President Trump, the Democrats on these committees will each provide their input over what they believe should be included in articles of impeachment, which will be introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler. (Pelosi will have the ultimate say on this.)
- When would an impeachment vote happen? The House Judiciary Committee will consider the articles of impeachment resolution and schedule a vote on it. If it passes the House panel, then the full House is expected to take it up. If a majority of House members vote for the resolution, then the House will have impeached Trump. To convict the President and remove him from office, it would require support from a two-thirds majority of the Senate, a highly unlikely proposition.
- So in the end, what's changed? Not a whole lot, other than Pelosi formally endorsing an impeachment inquiry. But for the past couple months, the House Judiciary Committee has made the case that it was already conducting an impeachment inquiry with the goal of deciding whether to vote on articles of impeachment. There will not be a separate vote to open up an impeachment inquiry, Democrats say. Pelosi would not give a timeframe over this process but she told her colleagues it would be done "expeditiously," and Nadler has hoped to conclude it by the end of the year.