Impeachment inquiry: what’s next and how it works


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi officially launched an impeachment inquiry on Tuesday.

Following the inquiry, Speaker Pelosi has authorized six house committees to investigate any potential impeachable offenses by President Donald Trump.

Lincoln Memorial Law Professor Stewart Harris said Wednesday investigations were already taking place, but giving it this title gets more public attention and potentially more favor in federal court, especially if the Trump administration tries to assert executive privilege on any discovery.

The six committees’ findings would go onto the House Judiciary Committee, who would be responsible for drafting any articles of impeachment. The committee would then hold a vote. An article requires 21 votes in committee to pass, and there are currently 24 Democrats and 17 Republicans on the committee.

If an article passes committee, it will be voted on by the full House, which is made up of 235 Democrats and 199 Republicans. If one article gets more than half of the votes in the House, the president is impeached. It’s up to the U.S. Senate to convict and remove a president from office.

That move required two-thirds of the Senate. That’s 67 votes. Currently, the Senate is made up of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents.

No president has ever been impeached and removed from office. Former President Bill Clinton was impeached in the House, but not convicted in the Senate. The same was true for Andrew Johnson.

Former President Richard Nixon resigned before the full House voted on any impeachment articles.

Harris says this process was all set up by our founding fathers.

“We should all remember this is a very constitutional process,” Harris said. “This is precisely how it’s supposed to work. The House of Representatives has complete discretion as to whether it votes articles of impeachment and on what basis it decides to do so.

“Then the Senate, of course, has a trial. everything is set out in the constitution. They’re following the correct procedures.”

While Harris acknowledges impeachment talks can often be divisive and along party lines, but said the framers of our constitution accounted for that, too.

“They realized human beings are imperfect and they did the best they could by trying to give responsibility to both houses of Congress. So let’s let the process work and hope that it works properly,” he said.

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