Ever since Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House of Representatives was launching an impeachment investigation into President Trump, questions have swirled and mounted about what that official — and serious — process looks like.
So here's what to understand about what's happening and what will happen next.
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 the 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.”
Once that draft is completed, the entire House votes whether to accept it and charge the president with a crime or crimes.
And If the House Charges Trump With a Crime?
The process moves on to the Senate, which would decide whether to try the president on the charges brought against him. The chief justice of the United States would preside over the trial. A two-thirds majority vote in the Senate would be needed to find the president guilty and actually remove him from office.
However, while other presidents have been impeached, including Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, no president has been removed from office. Former President Richard Nixon famously resigned from office in 1974 before the impeachment process was completed over the Watergate scandal.
Who Would Become President If Trump Is Removed From Office?
Vice President Mike Pence. He would serve out the rest of Trump's term — until January 2021.