(WTNH/AP) — On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the House of Representatives into a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
But what exactly is an impeachment inquiry and how does it work?
Impeachment is a political process in which any civil officer, including a president and vice president, can be removed from office “for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” according to the Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution.
In the case of Trump, it focuses on whether he abused his presidential powers and sought help from a foreign government to undermine Democratic Joe Biden and help his own reelection.
During a news conference, Pelosi said such actions would mark a “betrayal of his oath of office,” adding that “no one is above the law.”
Three of Trump’s predecessors underwent similar proceedings.
Andrew Johnson (1868) and Bill Clinton (1998), who were acquitted after trials in the Senate, and Richard Nixon (1974), who resigned to avoid being impeached in connection with the Watergate scandal.
The first step toward impeachment is taken by the House of Representatives.
The group debates and votes on whether to bring charges against the leader — which is done by a majority vote of the House’s 435 members.
If the House adopts an impeachment resolution, the Senate then holds a trial in which the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court presides.
A two-thirds majority vote is then required in the Senate to convict and remove a president.
Only 20 government officers in all, including Johnson and Clinton, have been impeached, and only eight of them, all federal judges with lifetime tenure, have been convicted and removed from office.