Donald Trump impeachment - what happens now?

19 December 2019, 08:22

President Donald Trump has been impeached
President Donald Trump has been impeached. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

US lawmakers have voted to impeach the president on charges of obstruction of justice and abuse of power - but what happens now?

The House of Representatives has voted by 230 votes to 197 on the first count, charging him with abusing his power.

They voted 229-198 on the second, accusing him of obstructing Congress.

It makes Donald Trump only the third president in US history to be impeached.

But what will happen after the vote?

What does the Constitution say?

If a President is impeached by the House, they can still serve as President.

It is up to the Senate to hold a trial to decide whether he will be removed from office.

The constitution says that during this trial, senators will sit as jurors and House lawmakers act as prosecutors, with the Chief Justice of the United States presiding over it.

Two thirds of senators present must vote in favour of convicting the president for him to be removed from office.

The constitution does not however lay out exactly how to hold the trial.

The House of Representatives have voted to impeach the president
The House of Representatives have voted to impeach the president. Picture: PA

What will happen in the Senate trial?

It is up to senators whether to call witnesses and what kind of evidence to admit.

The trial is expected to take place in January 2020, and there is also no time limit on how long the trial can go on for.

Senate Democrats proposed a trial plan that would see proceedings begin on January 6.

Presentations by House managers, who would effectively work as prosecutors, would begin on January 9.

If we look back at the Clinton trial, no new evidence was submitted, and only taped witness testimonies were allowed.

However, is it not clear if this will happen for the Trump trial.

A majority of senators will need to agree of the rules for the impeachment trial before it can go ahead.

This responsibility will fall to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.

Once senators come to an agreement, there will be a start date for the trial to go ahead, and all senators will start by taking an oath of impartiality.

The president can choose his own lawyers, and senators can question witnesses.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. Picture: PA

Is he likely to be convicted?

If Trump is found guilty on even one count, the Constitution says he should be removed from office.

Senators can also take another vote to prevent him from even running for office again.

However, the chance of him being convicted is very low.

House Republicans are expected to vote along party lines and not vote for impeachment.

For the President to be impeached, 20 of the 53 Republican senators will have to join Democrat voting senators to reach the two-thirds threshold.

The President does also remain popular among his own base, so it is unlikely that Senate Republicans will override Republican voters and remove the president.

What will happen if President Trump is removed from office?

In the unlikely event that President Trump is removed from office, vice president Mike Pence would become president and complete Trump's term, which runs until January 20, 2021.

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