Now that the Democrats in the House of Representatives have decided to send Donald Trump’s indictment to the Senate on Wednesday, the impeachment trial of the President is imminent.
Here is what you need to know about the historic procedure targeting the billionaire.
On July 25, 2019, during a telephone interview, Donald Trump asked the new Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, a potential rival during the presidential election in November 2020, and his son Hunter.
The Democrats, majority in the lower house of Congress, open an investigation into dismissal against the ex-magnate of the real estate on September 24, after having been informed of the contents of the conversation by a whistleblower.
They suspect him of having put pressure on Ukraine by notably conditioning military aid of nearly 400 million dollars upon the announcement of these investigations.
Trump says his conversations with Mr. Zelensky were “perfect” and insists that Joe and Hunter Biden are “corrupt” without specifying evidence, in part because the son of the former Democratic Vice-President sat on the management of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas group suspected for a while of questionable practices.
Tense public hearings
In October and November, the commissions investigating the Chamber heard ten or so witnesses during closed and then public hearings. The White House refuses to cooperate and the president’s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, as well as his ex-national security adviser, John Bolton, are not heard.
But several indirect testimonies from diplomats and administration officials point to Trump’s pressure on Kiev.
The republican elected officials are united behind the New York billionaire: there has been no “give and take” since a large part of the military aid was paid without Kiev announcing investigations. Donald Trump has used his presidential prerogatives to fight corruption in Ukraine, they argue.
President’s supporters also counterattack by denouncing hearsay evidence and speak of a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 elections for the benefit of the Democrats.
Two “impeachment” articles
The House Judiciary Committee approved on December 10 two counts of impeachment against Donald Trump.
The president committed an “abuse of power” by asking a foreign country to investigate a political rival and endangered the integrity of the November 2020 election.
He also “hindered the smooth running of Congress” by prohibiting members of the government from testifying.
The House approved these two charges on December 18 by a vote in plenary: Donald Trump then became the third president of American history indicted in Congress, after Andrew Johnson (1868) and Bill Clinton (1998). In 1974 Richard Nixon had resigned before the vote in the House.
The Senate trial
Given the Republican majority in the Senate (53 seats out of 100), the billionaire should be acquitted at the end of his dismissal trial, which should open on Tuesday, January 21.
The Democrats should convince 20 senators from the other side to vote for one of the two clauses. An almost impossible task as the partisan lines are strong, in the Senate as in public opinion.