As impeachment proceedings officially begin in the House, speculation has quickly turned to how they might end in the Senate. Republican leadership clarified that the Senate must take action if the lower chamber approves articles of impeachment against President Trump.
“There is no way we could somehow bar the doors and prevent the managers from presenting the articles to the Senate,” stated a GOP leadership memo reportedly obtained by HuffPost. “The rules of impeachment are clear on this point.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the formal impeachment inquiry into Trump last Tuesday after the White House released a memo of Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Following the decision was the release of an anonymous whistleblower complaint against the president over his repeated attempts to enlist Ukrainian officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, and allegedly withholding almost $400 million in military aid from Ukraine as leverage.
Articles of impeachment are drafted and voted on in the House, leading to a trial in the Senate. With a Republican majority in the Senate, at least 20 votes from Donald Trump’s own party would be required to reach the 67 necessary to remove him as president, assuming all Democrats and the two independents vote to convict.
But Trump’s reputed stranglehold on the Republican base and his threats to support primary challenges to incumbents who oppose him have kept virtually the entire party in his corner.
Some Democrats speculate that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would not hold a Senate trial if Trump were impeached by the House.
McConnell, who participated in the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial and declined to hold a vote on then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in 2016, could just as equally decide against holding an impeachment trial, but notably he said in a March interview that if impeachment were to happen, “the Senate has no choice. If the House were to act, the Senate immediately goes into a trial.”