On Sept. 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the House of Representatives was going to open impeachment inquiries against President Trump, following the whistleblower complaint submitted on Aug. 12.
The presidential impeachment process is similar to a court trial. If President Trump is impeached, he can be put on a criminal trial.
The United States Constitution gives Congress the sole power of impeachment. Impeaching a president does not necessarily mean that the president will be removed from office, but it is the first step in the process.
Impeachment is an official accusation or indictment of a crime, but not until voted out by the Senate can a president be removed from office. This is how former President Clinton was impeached but still finished his term.
The House acts similar to a grand jury, gathering evidence to decide whether or not a trial in the Senate is appropriate. The House holds a vote after gathering evidence.
If the House finds it has enough evidence to go to trial in the Senate, their vote will officially impeach the President and move the Senate trial forward.
On Aug 12., a whistleblower complaint was submitted to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, claiming that President Trump unlawfully used his presidential powers to bargain intel from Ukraine to damage the reputation and campaign of his political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.
According to reporter Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times, President Trump is accused of withholding more than $391 million in aid from Ukraine unless Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky opened a corruption investigation against Biden and his son.
House Speaker Pelosi held a press conference on Sept. 24 to announce the formal impeachment inquiry.
“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” Pelosi said in her declaration.
According to the New York Times, House committees have issued subpoenas to the White House, the Defense Department, the budget office, and other government agencies.
These subpoenas will require these organizations to release documents related to the impeachment investigation.
If impeached, President Trump would become only the fourth United States President to face impeachment joining former Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton.
Democrats in the House of Representatives will continue the impeachment process in the coming months.