Capitol Alert

What is a formal impeachment inquiry, and what happens next for President Trump?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, has launched a formal impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. What exactly does that mean?

It’s unclear how Pelosi plans to proceed, but the House Judiciary Committee traditionally has jurisdiction over impeachment proceedings. That committee weighs the evidence against the president and votes on whether to send articles of impeachment to the House floor for a general vote.

The House would then vote on whether to impeach the president, with a simple majority needed to decide.

Should the president be impeached, the Senate would conduct a trial, presided over by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, with a delegation from the House prosecuting the case.

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The Senate then would vote on whether to remove the president and replace him with the vice president. That vote would require a supermajority of the Senate — 66 votes — to succeed.

Americans have watched impeachment proceedings twice in living memory. Presidents Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before the House could vote to impeach him on charges of obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Cognress. The House voted to impeach Bill Clinton in 1998 on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Clinton was acquitted by the Senate.

Several Democrats, including freshmen from vulnerable California districts, have voiced their support for impeaching Trump.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.