4 things to know about impeachment

President Donald J. Trump disembarks Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Aug. 21, 2019.
President Donald J. Trump disembarks Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Aug. 21, 2019. | (White House/Tia Dufour)

In September, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced that the House will pursue a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Speaker Pelosi specifically cited recent revelations about the apparent mistreatment of a whistleblower and concerns over President Trump asking Ukraine to investigate the son of Democratic candidate Joe Biden, a move Pelosi said “would benefit [Trump] politically.” The transcript of that conversation can be read here

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi argued.

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“Therefore, today, I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I’m directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry. The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”

Pat A. Cipollone, counsel to President Trump, sent a letter to House leadership on Wednesday denouncing their proceedings and explaining that the administration was not going to cooperate with the inquiry.

“Put simply, you seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen,” wrote Cipollone.

“In fact, your transparent rush to judgment, lack of democratically accountable authorization, and violation of basic rights in the current proceedings make clear the illegitimate, partisan purpose of this purported ‘impeachment inquiry.’”

Here are answers to four important questions regarding the history of impeachment and how the process is supposed to work when directed at the president.

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