How Trump was impeached: A timeline

The World
Updated on
US President Donald Trump stands amid microphones outside

The US House of Representatives announced an impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump on Sept. 24, 2019, sparked by a whistleblower complaint that warned of “urgent concerns” regarding the president’s actions in Ukraine. Since the investigation was launched, members of the House have heard testimony from multiple officials, including both political appointees and career foreign service staff.

Below is a timeline of key events, which will be updated as the impeachment process continues.  

Dec. 18, 2019

The House of Representatives took two historic votes to impeach the 45th president of the United States Wednesday on charges of abusing the power of his office and obstructing a congressional probe. The vote was almost entirely along party lines — 230-197-1 on the first article of impeachment to charge Trump with abuse of power, and 229-198-1 for the second article, obstruction of Congress. Republicans, who are in the minority in the House, began the day with a failed motion to adjourn — one attempt to stall the proceedings that continued into the evening. 

Trump is the third president in American history to be impeached, following Bill Clinton in 1998 and Andrew Johnson in 1868.

A trial in the Senate will likely begin in January, in which the upper chamber of Congress acts as jury to decide whether or not to remove the president from office. Lawmakers from the House will act as managers, responsible for presenting evidence, and the president will have defense lawyers, likely to be led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

No president in the 243-year history of the United States has been removed from office by impeachment. That would require a two-thirds majority in the 100-member Senate, meaning at least 20 Republicans would have to join Democrats in voting against Trump — and none have indicated they will.

Dec. 17, 2019

In contentious debate Tuesday, House Rules Committee approved the resolution to guide the House vote on articles of impeachment, which was set for Wednesday.   

Trump sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a rambling six-page letter expressing outrage at what he referred to as a “partisan impeachment crusade.”

“You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!” Trump wrote. 

Using bombastic phrases, the president derided Pelosi, Democrats and the FBI,  claiming he had been “deprived of basic Constitutional Due Process.” “More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials,” the president claimed, without providing evidence. The White House chose not to participate in the impeachment inquiry in the House, blocking officials from testifying and refusing to handover requested documents.

Pointing to his electoral college victory in 2016, Trump accused Pelosi of trying to “nullify” the votes of the American people. (Trump lost the popular election to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes.)

Calling the impeachment “illegal,” “invalid” and a “fantasy,” the president did seem aware of the anticipated vote in the House that will almost certainly lead to his impeachment. “I write this letter to you for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record.”

Dec. 13, 2019

The House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against Trump, accusing the president of abuse of power and obstructing Congress. The vote was starkly along party lines, with Democrats voting in favor of the articles. Partisan bickering dominated the procedural markup period of the impeachment articles — a debate process that lasted more than 18 hours over three days. The full House is expected to vote on impeachment in the upcoming week.  

Dec. 10, 2019

House lawmakers announced formal charges against Trump that accuse him of abusing power and obstructing Congress, making him only the third US president in history to face impeachment.

The full House of Representatives is expected to vote on the articles of impeachment next week. The chamber, controlled by Democrats, is almost certain to vote to impeach the Republican president, setting the stage for a dramatic trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, likely to begin in January.

House Judiciary Committee chairman, Jerrold Nadler, told reporters that Trump had endangered the US Constitution, undermined the integrity of the 2020 election and jeopardized national security.

“No one, not even the president, is above the law,” Nadler said.

Dec. 5, 2019

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives will proceed with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. 

“His actions are in defiance of the vision of our founders and the oath of office that he takes to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Pelosi said. “Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders, and a heart full of love for America, today, I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment.”

Pelosi began the statement with the opening words of the Declaration of Independence, comparing the founders’ grievances against King George to “among other grievances [Trump’s] failure to faithfully execute the law.”  

“In America, no one is above the law,” she added.

Pelosi’s statement is another indication that the House hopes to vote on articles of impeachment before breaking for December holidays.

Related: Democrats push forward as Pelosi moves for articles of impeachment

Dec. 4, 2019

The impeachment inquiry moved to a new phase in the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Jarrold Nadler (D-NY). The committee heard televised opinions on the threshold for impeachment from four legal scholars. This public discussion was seen as likely to help set the framework for upcoming articles of impeachment. 

Three scholars called by House Democrats — Noah Feldman of Harvard, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina, and Pamela Karlan of Stanford, — indicated that the president’s actions as revealed in the investigation met the Consitutional standard for impeachable offenses. 

“The president solicited assistance from a foreign government in order to assist his own reelection,” Feldman said. “That is, he used the power of his office that no one else could possibly have used in order to gain personal advantage for himself, distorting the election. And that’s precisely what the framers anticipated.”

Karlan said, “If you don’t impeach a president who has done what this president has done, then what you’re saying is, it’s fine to go ahead and do this again.”

Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, called by Republicans, argued the investigation was “inadequate” and had been rushed. 

“You set an incredibly short period, demand a huge amount of information, and when the president goes to court, you then impeach him,” Turley said, adding that the investigation amounted to an abuse of power. “You’re doing precisely what you are criticizing the president for doing.”

Dec. 3, 2019

The House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), released a report detailing the findings of the impeachment investigation.

The report states, “The impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, uncovered a months-long effort by President Trump to use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election. As described in this executive summary and the report that follows, President Trump’s scheme subverted US foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential reelection campaign.”  

The report also references the president’s refusal to submit documents or allow some officials to testify. “Using the power of the Office of the President, and exercising his authority over the Executive Branch, President Trump ordered and implemented a campaign to conceal his conduct from the public and frustrate and obstruct the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry,” the report states. 

Republicans released a preemptive rebuttal report on Dec. 2.  

The New York Times reported Olena Zerkal, a former deputy minister of foreign affairs for Ukraine, was the first Ukrainian official to publicly acknowledge that senior officials in Kyiv were aware of the freeze on military aid from the Trump administration in July. This contradicts Trump’s statement that Ukraine “didn’t even know the money wasn’t paid,” and undermines arguments that Kyiv could not feel pressure from the Trump administration if they didn’t know about the freeze. Laura Cooper, Russia and Ukraine expert in the Defense Department, noted in her Congressional testimony Nov. 20 that Ukrainians were aware of funds being withheld by at least July 25, the day of the phone call between presidents Trump and Zelenskiy. 

Dec. 2, 2019

House Republicans issued a report on evidence in what the report calls the “Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.” 

The report argues, “The evidence presented does not prove any of these Democrat allegations, and none of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor.”

It also accuses Democrats of an “orchestrated campaign to upend our political system.” 

“They are trying to impeach President Trump because some unelected bureaucrats were discomforted by an elected President’s telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky,” the report states. “They are trying to impeach President Trump because some unelected bureaucrats chafed at an elected President’s ‘outside the beltway’ approach to diplomacy.” 

Many of the witnesses in the House investigation are career civil servants with decades of service to the American public. 

The Democratic report is expected on Dec. 3. 

Nov. 21, 2019 

President Donald Trump’s former Russia adviser Fiona Hill urged lawmakers in the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry on Thursday not to promote “politically driven falsehoods” that cast doubt on Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election.

In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, Hill said based on their questions and statements some members of the panel appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against the United States during the 2016 presidential race and that perhaps Ukraine did.

Some Republican members of the Democratic-led committee have advanced the discredited theory, which has been embraced by Trump and his political allies.

“This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves,” said Hill, who until July served as the director for European and Russian affairs at the White House National Security Council.

“In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” she said in the last scheduled public hearing in the House inquiry.

The notion that Ukraine and not Russia interfered in 2016 was one of two issues that the US president urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate in a July 25 phone call that is at the heart of the impeachment effort.

Nov. 20, 2019

A senior US diplomat on Wednesday described broad involvement at the upper levels of the Trump administration in a pressure campaign against Ukraine, giving testimony that for the first time put the secretary of state and vice president at the heart of the impeachment probe against US President Donald Trump.

Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, said he “followed the president’s orders” to work with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who was pushing Ukraine to carry out two investigations that would benefit Trump politically as he runs for re-election in November 2020.

Sondland’s testimony was among the most significant in the four days of public hearings in the Democratic-led House of Representatives impeachment inquiry that has captivated Washington and threatens the Trump presidency. 

The ambassador, a wealthy Oregon hotelier and Trump political donor, detailed the president’s active participation in the Ukraine controversy. Sondland depicted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as engaged in the efforts to get Ukraine to carry out the investigations, including one targeting Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, and described Vice President Mike Pence as being aware of the efforts.

Nov. 19, 2019

A White House official testified in the impeachment inquiry against US President Donald Trump that the president’s request that Ukraine investigates a domestic political rival was an improper “demand,” as he fended off Republican efforts to cast doubt on his competence and loyalty to the United States.

Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the White House National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert and a decorated Iraq war veteran, testified at the third public impeachment hearing before the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, wearing his blue dress military uniform and medals.

Both Vindman and a second witness — Jennifer Williams, an aide to US Vice President Mike Pence — raised concerns about requests made by Trump in a July 25 telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that is at the heart of the impeachment investigation threatening Trump’s presidency.

During the call, Trump asked Zelenskiy to carry out two investigations that would benefit him politically, including one targeting Democratic political rival Joe Biden. The other involved a debunked conspiracy theory embraced by some Trump allies that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 US election.

“It was inappropriate, it was improper for the president to request — to demand — an investigation into a political opponent, especially [from] a foreign power where there is at best dubious belief that this would be a completely impartial investigation and that this would have significant implications if it became public knowledge,” Vindman told the committee.

Even as he was testifying, the White House’s official Twitter account attacked his judgment — even though he is a current White House official. The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., assailed Vindman in a Twitter post as “a low-level partisan bureaucrat and nothing more.”

Nov. 13, 2019

The first televised public hearings were held in the House impeachment inquiry with acting Ambassador William Taylor and George Kent, senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine policy, speaking before the House Intelligence Committee. 

In their public testimony, both Taylor and Kent reiterated their concern about a pressure campaign withholding security aid, and a presidential meeting, to push Zelenskiy to investigate Trump’s political rivals. Taylor also described a July 26 phone call overheard by his staffer between US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland and Trump.

“Ambassador Sondland responded [to Taylor’s staff member] that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for,” Taylor testified.

Related: In the impeachment inquiry, is the US a defender of democracy — or corrupt itself?

Nov. 12, 2019

Investigators released the deposition transcript of Laura Cooper, the Pentagon’s top Russia and Ukraine official.

Nov. 11, 2019

Depositions of State Department officials Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson are released.

Nov. 10, 2019

Lev Parnas, a business associate of Rudy Giuliani, said he passed along a warning to Zelenskiy’s government that the US would freeze aid if Ukraine did not announce an investigation into the Bidens. Parnas’s claim is disputed, including by his business partner, Igor Fruman.   

Nov. 8, 2019

The depositions from Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and former national security adviser Fiona Hill are released.  

Nov. 7, 2019

The Oct. 15 testimony from senior state department official George Kent is released. 

Nov. 6, 2019

The Oct. 22 testimony from acting US Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor is released. 

Nov. 5, 2019

House investigators released transcripts of closed-door interviews with US Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, and the Trump Administration’s special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker.

Nov. 4, 2019

Sondland issued a new declaration to Congress, saying that the opening statements of acting Ambassador William Taylor and Tim Morrison, top adviser for Russia and Europe on the National Security Council, had “refreshed my recollection about certain conversations.” In it, Sondland more explicitly writes about a quid pro quo linking US military aid from the Trump administration and a sit-down meeting with Trump to a promise from Zelenskiy to investigate corruption — including Burisma, the energy company for which Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, sat on the board.  

House committees publically released testimony from ousted US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and senior State Department adviser Michael McKinley.

Related: New testimony, transcripts, paint fuller picture of quid pro quo   

Oct. 31, 2019

The US House of Representatives approved a resolution to formalize the impeachment inquiry into Trump. The resolution set rules for opening hearings to the public and releasing deposition transcripts, as well as due process rights for the president. 

Speaking to House investigators, Tim Morrison, the top adviser on Russia and Europe in Trump’s National Security Council, reinforced much of what other officials have testified — that Trump threatened to withhold aid money to Ukraine until it agreed to investigate the Biden family. 

Related: Morrison’s testimony shows ‘how irregular things have gotten’ in DC

Oct. 30, 2019

Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, state department officials, testified separately about the president’s pessimistic view of Ukraine and his description of the country as “corrupt.” Trump’s view seems to have been at odds with other officials, who were optimistic about the direction of the country.   

Oct. 29, 2019

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs on the National Security Council, arrived at the US Capitol clad in his military dress uniform to testify before House investigators. He was the first current White House official to testify in the impeachment inquiry against Trump. A Ukraine-born American citizen and decorated Iraq War combat veteran, Vindman was the first current White House official, as well as the first person who listened in on the July 25 call at the heart of the Ukraine scandal, to testify. Some allies of the Republican president, including Fox News host Laura Ingraham, sought to attack Vindman’s integrity and questioned his loyalty to the United States.

Related: Gen. Zwack: Calling Vindman a ‘double agent’ ahead of testimony is ‘reprehensible’

Oct. 23, 2019

Republicans held up planned testimony in the impeachment inquiry by storming the secure room in which Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper was due to speak to House lawmakers. Congressional Republicans held their ground for five hours in Wednesday’s siege after Trump called on his allies to “take the gloves off.” The stunt obscured the fact that Republicans who are part of the committees involved in the inquiry are allowed to attend hearings — roughly 1 out of every 4 Republicans, the Washington Post reported. 

Oct. 22, 2019

William Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, spoke to lawmakers behind closed doors. In his opening statement, William Taylor said that “in August and September of this year, I became increasingly concerned that our relationship with Ukraine was being fundamentally undermined by an irregular, informal channel of US policymaking and by the withholding of vital security assistance for domestic political reasons.”

Oct. 17, 2019

Sondland, a Trump donor and political appointee spoke to Congressional investigators. One of the “three amigos” who replaced core policymakers for Ukraine, according to testimony, Sondland was initially stopped from testifying by the State Department on Oct. 8. He revised his Oct. 17 testimony on Nov. 4.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters directly that the Trump administration suspended military aid to Ukraine in order to force an investigation into the 2016 election — and that it was perfectly normal to do so.Mulvaney later walked that statement back, accusing reporters of misconstruing his words.

Oct. 16, 2019

McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, testified to House lawmakers. McKinley, who resigned from his post the previous week, told impeachment investigators Wednesday that career diplomats were mistreated and their careers impacted negatively for political reasons, according to the Washington Post. He referenced former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, whose ouster he viewed as unjustified. McKinely told Pompeo of his resignation more than a week before he left on Friday, Oct. 11. His 37-year-long service was not publicly acknowledged by Pompeo.

Oct. 15, 2019

George Kent, a career diplomat in charge of Ukraine policy, testified before congressional investigators that he was instructed to defer to the “three amigos” — Volker, Sondland and Rick Perry — on issues relating to Ukraine. Kent also defended Yovanovitch, who was a target of a “classic disinformation operation.”  

Oct. 14, 2019

Fiona Hill, Trump’s former national security adviser on Russian and European affairs, testified for more than nine hours in front of House lawmakers. Hill left her post in the White House in July, before the president’s call with Zelenskiy. She said she was concerned about an abuse of power related to Yovanovitch’s ouster. Hill was also part of a July 10 meeting attended by senior Ukrainian officials, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Sondland and others in which Sondland brought up investigations. Hill and Bolton were concerned after the meeting, and Hill said Bolton told her to speak with NSC lawyer John Eisenberg, according to WSJ. Hill was the first White House official to testify in the impeachment inquiry. 

Oct. 11, 2019

Yovanovitch testified behind closed doors for more than nine hours. Yovanovitch is a career diplomat who has served as a foreign service officer for 33 years under four Republican and two Democratic administrations. In her opening statement, Yovanovitch noted the bipartisan policies of advancing anti-corruption in Ukraine and protecting Ukrainian sovereignty from Russian expansionism. Yovanovitch says she was a victim to a smear campaign that lead to her ouster in May 2019. The president reportedly “lost confidence” in Yovanovitch, though the Deputy Secretary of State told Yovanovitch that she had “done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations,” according to her statement. Yovanovitch noted that individuals connected to Giuliani “may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”

Oct. 9, 2019

Two associates of Giuliani were arrested on campaign finance charges at Dulles International Airport before boarding a one-way flight to Frankfurt. Ukrainian American Lev Parnas and Belarusian American Igor Fruman were large donors to the Trump campaign, contributing more than $600,000 to Republican candidates and PACs, including $350,000 to America First Action, a PAC supporting Trump. According to the indictment, they “conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office so that the defendants could buy potential influence with the candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ governments.” Parnas and Fruman are also linked to the ouster of Yovanovitch, who was working on anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine interfering with their business interests. Trump denies knowing the men personally, though there are multiple photographs showing Trump with either of the men.   

Related: This ex-MP wants to help untangle Giuliani’s business dealings in Ukraine

Oct. 8, 2019 

White House counsel Pat Cipollone told Congress the White House would refuse to comply with House investigators, calling the impeachment inquiry “constitutionally invalid” and making several questionable claims regarding the process.

Related: Amid Trump impeachment inquiry, future diplomats consider their own ‘red lines’

Oct. 6, 2019

Mark Zaid, the attorney representing the whistleblower, informs the press that he is representing a second whistleblower, as well.  

Oct. 3, 2019

Chairmen of House committees released text messages from US-Ukraine envoys that indicated evidence that security assistance was conditioned on Ukrainian investigations into Trump’s political rivals. 

Trump publicly invited China to investigate his political rivals: “And by the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.” 

Related: US diplomat thought it was ‘crazy’ to withhold Ukraine aid: texts

Oct. 2, 2019

Rep. Adam Schiff’s claims that the whistleblower had not had contact with his committee are refuted by The New York Times and Washington Post, which report that a staffer had communicated with the whistleblower about the outlines of the concerns before the complaint was filed. 

Oct. 1, 2019

Pompeo informed House Democrats that the Department would not comply with requests to make five employees available for depositions, calling the request “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.” George Kent, a career foreign service officer, disputed Pompeo’s claim in later testimony.  

Sept. 27, 2019

Kurt Volker resigned his position as US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations. 

More than 300 national security professionals sign their names to a statement supporting the impeachment inquiry noting, “To be clear we do not wish to prejudge the totality of the facts of Congress’ deliberative process. At the same time, there is no escaping that what we already know is serious enough to merit impeachment proceedings.”  

Related: Volker: After 5 years of conflict, Ukraine’s barrier to peace is still ‘Russia’s political will’

Sept. 26, 2019

The whistleblower complaint is declassified by the White House and released by Rep. Schiff. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testifed to the House Intelligence Committee the same day that concerns over “matters of executive privilege” delayed the complaint’s release to Congress, even after a subpoena.    

In the complaint, the whistleblower outlines ongoing concerns regarding the Trump administration’s dealing with Ukraine, including the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy, efforts to restrict access to records of the call, and pressure on the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens. The whistleblower complaint highlights the involvement of the president and his personal lawyer, Giuliani, and Attorney General William Barr, as well as interactions between US officials Volker and Sondland.

Sept. 25, 2019

Maguire released the whistleblower complaint to Congress after refusing to do so and ignoring a subpoena. According to law, if the inspector general deems whistleblower complaints urgent and credible, they must be forwarded to intelligence committees within seven days. The complaint was filed Aug. 26, but Maguire only provided it to Congress on Sept. 25. 

The White House released a memorandum of the Trump-Zelenskiy phone call, which the president continues to call “perfect.” 

Sept. 24, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry. The House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment, according to the Constitution, though it is the Senate that has the power to try all impeachments and remove a president from office.  

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Related: The president’s action in Ukraine ‘was wrong,’ experts say

Aug. 12, 2019

An anonymous whistleblower filed a complaint about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine that was forwarded to Congress. The complaint was deemed urgent and credible. 

July 25, 2019

Trump calls to congratulate Ukraine’s recently elected president, Zelenskiy, on his party’s success in the parliamentary elections. 

In the phone call, Zelenskiy expressed an interest in acquiring American military equipment. Trump — who had withheld military aid from Ukraine — responded, “I would like you to do us a favor, though.”

At least four national security officials were so troubled by what they heard on the call, according to The Washington Post, they raised concerns with a White House lawyer. 

Reuters contributed reporting. 

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