Here's What Could Happen Next in the House Impeachment Inquiry Against President Trump

After a week of public hearings with a dozen witnesses, House Democrats have signaled that they may be ready to move onto the next stage in their impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

Top Democrats have said they aim to vote on whether to impeach Trump by the end of the year. But the House of Representatives will need to take several steps before the issue can move on to the Senate, which will be responsible for prosecuting the president.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi affirmed that the probe is far from over during her weekly press conference on Thursday. While Pelosi declined to give an exact timeline, she told reporters that the chamber will "go where the facts take us."

"We aren't finished yet, the day is not over," Pelosi said. She also slammed her Republican colleagues for continuing to stand by Trump: "The sad tragedy of all of this is the behavior of the president and the defense of that behavior by the Republicans."

The president's efforts to press Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to start investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as the 2016 election, prompted Democrats to launch the inquiry in late September. After weeks of private investigation, the House moved the probe into the public eye by holding public impeachment hearings this past week.

Trump responded to the latest developments in the impeachment inquiry by calling into Fox & Friends on Friday. During his call, Trump claimed he doesn't know a number of the witnesses who have testified in the impeachment inquiry, such as Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland.

The president also said he would like an impeachment trial in which he could question Representative Adam Schiff, Hunter Biden and the whistleblower whose complaint about Trump's July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy launched the impeachment probe.

Here's everything you need to know about what will happen next:

Will there be more public hearings?

There are no more public hearings on the House's schedule as of right now and it's unclear if more officials will be called to testify.

On Thursday, Pelosi suggested that more officials may be called to publicly testify but didn't elaborate on who or when. She simply told reporters that you "never know what testimony of one person may lead to the need for testimony of another."

The committee hasn't heard from some key witnesses in Trump's inner circle, like former National Security Adviser John Bolton or acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. But the White House would likely block these officials from participating in the probe, and Pelosi said she won't wait for a court to rule on whether they should be forced to testify.

The seven public hearings held by the House committee provided even more details on the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine. One of the biggest revelations to come from the hearings was the confirmation of a quid pro quo agreement linking a White House visit in exchange for Ukraine's president announcing the investigations requested by Trump.

What are the next steps of the impeachment process?

If the House Intelligence Committee decides not to hold any more public hearings, the next step for the panel is to compile a report of its investigation. Schiff, the leading Democrat on the committee, will be responsible for drafting that document.

The report would then be submitted to the House Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether or not to bring forward articles of impeachment against Trump. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said in early September that he personally believed the president "ought to be impeached."

"We have to show that this kind of behavior—trashing the Constitution, trashing all the norms which guarantee democratic government, aggrandizing power to the presidency and destroying the separation of powers and thereby leading the president to become more and more of a tyrant cannot be tolerated. And it cannot be normalized," Nadler told WNYC.

The potential charges that the president could face include bribery, abuse of power, contempt of Congress and obstruction of justice. The abuse of power charges could stem from Trump's dealings with Ukraine while obstruction of justice or contempt of Congress could result from the White House's refusal to comply with subpoenas for related documents and witness testimony.

donald trump air force one austin texas
President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas on November 20. The House of Representatives is still conducting an impeachment inquiry against Trump over his dealings with Ukraine. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

When could an impeachment vote happen?

It will likely take a few more weeks before the House is ready to hold a full floor vote on whether to impeach Trump.

Congress will not be in session next week thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday. When they return to Capitol Hill in early December, there will still be several steps to complete before holding a vote. The House Intelligence Committee will need to submit its report and the House Judiciary Committee will have to draw up articles of impeachment.

Still, party leaders have expressed that they want to hold a vote before 2020. Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, told Politico that it may be possible for all impeachment-related proceedings to be finished in the House by late December.

"Wouldn't that be a great Christmas gift for it to all wrap up by Christmas? I think it's very possible," Demings said.

What is the likelihood of a trial?

Republicans could technically cut off the proceedings immediately if they vote to dismiss the charges (the GOP hold a 53 to 47 majority in the chamber) but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that they will allow the trial to move forward.

"My own view is that we should give people an opportunity to put the case on," McConnell told reporters last week. "On the issue of how long it goes on, it's really kind of up to the Senate. People will have to conclude, are they learning something new? At some point, we'll get to an end."

According to a report from The Washington Post, the White House and Republicans are looking to limit an impeachment trial to two weeks.

If the impeachment probe does make its way to the Senate for a trial, it would be just the third time in U.S. history—after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton—that body would have to consider whether to remove a president from the White House. If Trump is not convicted, the trial ends and he remains in office.

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