Washington (AP) - The Democrats in the US Congress have taken concrete steps because of the Ukraine affair for a possible impeachment of President Donald Trump. In the first place are formal investigations against him.
Already for months running in six committees in the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives investigations against Trump and its environment. The new allegations about Ukraine have been added.
First, the six panels of the Congress Chamber are now required to collate the findings and submit them to the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives. That committee must then decide whether there are serious allegations against Trump justifying the official initiation of a so-called impeachment procedure.
The reasons for this are called "betrayal, bribery or other serious crimes and offenses". A timetable for the investigation does not exist - also no closer details. The democrats recently said vaguely that the investigations should be completed by the end of the year if possible.
In a next step, the entire House of Representatives would then have to vote on whether it wants to prosecute the President because of the identified "charges". This requires a simple majority of 218 of the 435 votes. The Democrats have 235 seats in the chamber. According to a census by the New York Times, 218 Democrat MPs are already in favor of impeachment investigations - and should support a vote in the Chamber if that happens.
Ultimate authority is at the end of the Senate, so the other chamber of Congress. He takes on the function of court in such a procedure. For an impeachment vote there would be a two-thirds majority of the 100 seats needed, that would be 67 votes. In the Chamber, Trump's Republicans have a majority of 53 seats.
It is currently highly unlikely that around 20 Republican senators could break with the president. It is also highly uncertain whether such a vote would come before the next presidential election in November 2020 at all.
To compare is the whole process with a criminal investigation. The House of Representatives would be the equivalent of a police investigation, the Congress Chamber vote would be the equivalent of prosecution, and the Senate procedure would be the trial, culminating in either an acquittal or a guilty verdict. A guilty verdict in this case means the impeachment. Appeal against it is not possible.
Congress on the impeachment process
"New York Times" Democratic advocates of impeachment investigations