Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday, Sept. 24 that the House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, according to The New York Times.
Both the Senate and the House Intelligence Committees received a whistleblower complaint concerning President Trump on Sept. 25, 2019, according to CNN.
The whistleblower complaint was made by a CIA officer who worked in the White House at one point. His identity remains anonymous at this time, but House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Sunday that an agreement has been reached for the whistleblower to testify before Congress, according to CNBC.
The whistleblower complaint alleges that President Trump tried to get the Ukrainian president to interfere in the 2020 election, most notably by investigating one of President Trump's biggest political opponents, former Vice President Joe Biden as well as his son. Trump then attempted to cover up the request, according to the released complaint by the Officer of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (ICIG).
On Sept. 26, the Trump administration released a summary from the call with the Ukrainian president, according to CBS.
On Sept. 27, three committee chairmen scheduled several depositions for witnesses, including subpoenas for documents from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani for documents relating to Ukraine, according to two articles by CBS news, one published on Sept. 27 and another on Sept. 30.
Pelosi stated that President Trump has "seriously violated the constitution" and "must be held accountable — no one is above the law," according to The Washington Post.
There have only ever been two presidents put through the impeachment process — Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson. Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached, according to The New York Times.
Impeachment is when the majority of the House votes in favor of a senate trial, on the basis of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors," according to Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution.
According to The New York Times, "high crimes" can be defined as a high-profile government official abusing their power.
The impeachment process begins with the House, currently controlled by Democrats, and relies on their investigation into President Trump's offenses. If the investigation comes up with no evidence of illegal behavior, the impeachment proceedings will end there, according to The New York Times.
If the investigation findings show evidence of wrongdoing, the House will vote. If the majority of the House votes against impeachment, President Trump will remain in office. If the majority of the House votes for impeachment, the process will continue, according to The New York Times.
If the president is impeached, the issue will then be brought to the Senate for a trial. After the trial, the Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans, will vote. If two-thirds of the Senate votes to convict President Trump, he will be removed from office. If fewer than two-thirds of the Senate votes to convict President Trump, he will remain in office, according to The New York Times.
"Nancy Pelosi was reluctant to [start the impeachment inquiry] because of the [Republican] backlash," said Michael Genovese, a professor of political science at LMU who specializes in the American presidency and speaks on newsrooms like CNN and CBS. "In 1998, when House Republicans impeached Bill Clinton, in the next midterm election there was a major reaction against that. The Democrats did very well."
"[Impeachment] is a significant step ahead for the investigation and the potential remedies that might ensue from a president who may have violated either the law or abused power," said Genovese. "It starts the process. It can be a long process or it can be as short as five to six weeks."
"The only way that [Trump will be removed from office] is if he is impeached by the House, which is likely, and then convicted in a Senate trial, which is less likely, because the Republicans control the Senate," said Genovese.
"I think for both Democrats and Republicans, their votes are going to be hardened ... [they] will do what they were going to do anyway," said Genovese. "The real key is how will people like myself, the people who are no-party-preference ... independents ... soft Democrats and soft Republicans vote. Those people can be swayed by the evidence," said Genovese.
"If the evidence [in the House Judiciary Committee] is persuasive, people might jump on board and want to impeach or vote against Trump in 2020. If it's a weak case the president's hand is strengthened in 2020 when he faces a national election,"said Genovese.
Americans are still split on whether they support the impeachment inquiry, according to NPR.
"It's hugely important. What happens now will stamp a character on us for the years to come," said Genovese.
Follow the Loyolan as we continue to cover the 2020 election.