Leading Democrat says Trump will be impeached by Christmas

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If the House successfully impeaches Donald Trump, the Senate will hold a trial in January to determine his fate.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters the House of Representatives will likely vote on articles of impeachment before the holiday recess, the Hill reported Tuesday.

"My presumption is that we will be considering them before we leave," Hoyer said. The House is scheduled to recess for the holidays on Dec. 20, meaning Trump will likely be impeached a week before Christmas.

Earlier on Tuesday, House leaders unveiled two articles of impeachment against Trump. One centers on his abuse of power related to withholding military aid from Ukraine for investigations of his political rivals, and the other centers on his obstruction of Congress during the impeachment investigation.

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If a majority of House members vote in favor of one or both articles, Trump would become only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House. The others were Bill Clinton in 1997 and Andrew Johnson in 1868. Both were acquitted in subsequent Senate trials. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before the House took a vote on articles of impeachment.

Impeachment does not mean Trump will be removed from office, but rather the Senate will hold a trial to determine his fate. The chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, would preside over the trial, and each of the 100 senators would be jurors. A two-thirds majority, or 67 votes if all senators are present and voting, would be needed to remove Trump from office.

Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, making Trump's removal from office unlikely. Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who faces reelection in the battleground state of Georgia in 2020, has already said that he and his Republican colleagues would not remove Trump from office.

In the event Trump is removed from office, Vice President Mike Pence would become president.

The events leading to a Trump impeachment began in the late summer, when a whistleblower within the Trump administration alerted his superiors to a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The whistleblower was concerned that Trump was asking a foreign government to launch an investigation into a U.S. citizen who was also seeking the Democratic nomination to be president: former Vice President Joe Biden.

Over the Trump administration's objections, Congress was informed about the complaint and began looking into the matter.

In September, the White House released a memo summarizing Trump's phone call with Zelenskiy, which showed that Trump told the Ukrainian leader, "Do us a favor, though," and proceeded to request investigations into both Biden and a debunked conspiracy theory positing that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election.

On September 24, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would officially open an impeachment investigation. On Oct. 31, the House voted to open the investigation and laid out the rules of the probe.

The House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs Committees held depositions and transcribed interview with 17 fact witnesses where both Democrats and Republicans were able to hear from and question witnesses. Afterward, the intelligence committee, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), held two weeks of public hearings with 12 witnesses, three of whom were requested by Republicans.

During private and public testimony, current and former Trump administration officials outlined efforts by Trump and his associates to pressure Ukraine to open politically advantageous investigations while withholding military aid Ukraine needed to defend itself from Russia.

The House Judiciary Committee heard the evidence and drafted the two articles of impeachment released on Tuesday.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.