Donald Trump made history as the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House.
Democrats on Wednesday night voted for two articles — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — after eight hours of debate on the House floor, where hundreds of lawmakers traded barbs for and against impeachment.
The historic votes capped a three-month inquiry by House Democrats into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. But the impeachment process is far from over: The proceedings now move to a trial in the Senate, which holds the final authority on whether to convict Trump and remove him from office, or to acquit him.
Republicans hold a 53-47 edge in the chamber. Conviction and removal require 67 votes. No Senate Republicans have signaled that they would vote to convict Trump.
What is a Senate Trial?
The articles of impeachment are now expected to be sent to the Senate, where senators will consider evidence, hear witnesses and vote to acquit or convict the president. The chief justice of the US Supreme Court presides over the trial.
A two-thirds majority vote is required in the 100-member Senate to convict and remove a president from office. A conviction appears unlikely in the case of Trump.
The Senate is made up of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Democrats. At least 20 Republicans would have to vote with all Democrats and the two independents to remove the president from office.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he would like swift proceedings, but the president has said he would not mind a robust trial, with testimony from a number of witnesses, including Biden and the whistle-blower whose complaint led to the impeachment inquiry.
But following Wednesday’s impeachment votes, Pelosi said she would wait, for now, to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
US media have reported that some House Democrats are urging Pelosi to withhold the transmittal of the articles until the “appropriate time”.
Pelosi on Wednesday evaded questions about when she plans to send the articles to the Senate.
Once the Senate receives the articles of impeachment, a trial can begin.
No firm date for a Senate trial has been set, but McConnell has said it will be the chamber’s “first order of business” upon returning to Washington, DC, in the new year.
Senate Democrats have 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 under this plan. It is unlikely that Senate Republicans would agree to the Democrats’ exact proposal.
In the unlikely event that the Senate convicts and removes Trump from office, Vice President Mike Pence would become president and complete Trump’s term, which ends on January 20, 2021.