Trump Is Acquitted and Will Stay in Office — This Is How We Got Here

President Trump is expressing regret over his relationship with his late brother. 
Getty Images / SAUL LOEB / Contributor

The House of Representatives voted to impeach the president on both charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but the Senate acquitted him of the charges.

Donald Trump, the businessman and reality star-turned president of the United States, has been impeached. However, he was found not guilty of the charges against him and he will remain president for the rest of his term. 

Ever since Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House of Representatives was launching an impeachment investigation into the president, questions swirled and mounted about what that official —  and serious — process looks likes and means for the country. 

So here's what to understand about everything that happened and how we got to this point.

What Is Impeachment?

Impeachment is when the House formally charges a federal official with a crime. That could include “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” according to the Constitution. House members would begin the process by investigating the person involved.

What Did the House Investigate?

There are questions surrounding decisions Trump made regarding Ukraine. According to multiple reports, Trump allegedly pushed the Ukrainian government to investigate the son of political rival Joe Biden. His son did business with the country. And Trump allegedly instructed staff to not send military aid to Ukraine in the days before the call, according to reports.

Trump denied that he pressured the Ukranian government in any way for political gain. Pelosi called the alleged actions a "betrayal of his oath of office" and a "betrayal of our national security."

How Does the House Decide What to Charge the President With?

Once an investigation is completed, the House Intelligence Committee submits a report of its findings. Among other points, the committee's report — written by Democratic members — on Trump alleges that he "solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 U.S. presidential election" and "sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process."

Intelligence Committee members then vote on whether to accept the report. If they do so, the report is sent to the House Judiciary Committee, accompanied by a second report by Republican members.

The Judiciary Committee reviews the report and drafts official articles of impeachment — or charges — against the president. Judiciary members decide how the allegations and evidence in the report translate into the official "rules" outlined in the Constitution for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The committee then votes on whether to accept the articles.

What Articles of Impeachment Did the Judiciary Committee Accept?

The House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against Trump: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 

The foundation of the abuse of power article stems from the allegations that Trump ordered the military aid to be held from Ukraine. The obstruction of Congress article deals with the Trump administration's alleged decision to block executive branch officials from testifying and refusing to release documents as part of the impeachment inquiry. 

Trump has denied all wrongdoing and House Republicans have made it clear they oppose impeachment.  

Because the Judiciary Committee approved the articles, the entire House voted whether to accept them and officially charge the president with the crimes. 

The House voted to impeach Trump on both charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 

What Happened After Trump Is Impeached?

The process moved on to the Senate, which tried the president on the charges brought against him. The chief justice of the United States presided over the trial. A two-thirds majority vote in the Senate was needed to find the president guilty and actually remove him from office.

However, that did not happen, and more senators voted to acquit the president. 

Trump has now joined the group of other presidents who were impeached but not removed from office, including Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson. Former President Richard Nixon famously resigned from office in 1974 before the impeachment process was completed over the Watergate scandal.

What Would Have Happened If Trump Was Removed From Office?

Vice President Mike Pence would have become president. He would have served out the rest of Trump's term — until January 2021.