The Impeachment Process, Explained – The New York Times

This has been a subject of dispute. During the Nixon and Clinton impeachment efforts, the full House voted for resolutions directing the House Judiciary Committee to open the inquiries. But it is not clear whether that step is strictly necessary, because impeachment proceedings against other officials, like a former federal judge in 1989, began at the committee level.

The House Judiciary Committee, led by Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, has claimed — including in court filings — that the panel is already engaged in an impeachment investigation. Mr. Trump’s Justice Department has argued that since there has been no House resolution, the committee is just engaged in a routine oversight proceeding.

Ms. Pelosi did not say in her announcement that she intended to bring any resolution to the floor.

Whether or not it is necessary, it has not been clear whether a resolution to formally start an impeachment inquiry would pass a House vote, although the number of Democrats who support one has recently been surging. Currently, The New York Times counts 179 members who say they favor impeachment proceedings, 73 who say they oppose them or are undecided, and 183 who have not responded to the question.

There are no set rules. Rather, the Senate passes a resolution first laying out trial procedures.

“When the Senate decided what the rules were going to be for our trial, they really made them up as they went along,” Gregory B. Craig, who helped defend Mr. Clinton in his impeachment proceeding and later served as White House counsel to President Barack Obama, told The Times in 2017.

For example, Mr. Craig said, the initial rules in that case gave Republican managers four days to make a case for conviction, followed by four days for the president’s legal team to defend him. These were essentially opening statements. The Senate then decided whether to hear witnesses, and if so, whether it would be live or on videotape. Eventually, the Senate permitted each side to depose several witnesses by videotape.

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