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House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on September 19, 2019. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday that the House will open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump, in the aftermath of reports that he pressured Ukraine's president to investigate political rival Joe Biden.

The big picture: After months of what House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler described as "formal impeachment proceedings" — or months of subpoenas and committee investigations — House Democrats are officially taking the plunge.

Where it stands: House Democrats told Axios' Alayna Treene on Tuesday that leadership did not get into whether there would be a select committee — outside of House Judiciary — focused on impeachment, or how the impeachment process itself is going to work.

  • Pelosi instructed the 6 committees previously charged with investigating Trump to assemble their best cases on the president's potentially impeachable offenses for the Judiciary Committee, per several members in the Speaker's closed-door Tuesday meeting.

Between the lines: The Constitution's standards for impeachment aren't entirely specific. Impeachable offenses like "high crimes and misdemeanors" are not defined within the document — leaving them open to legal analysis. House rules regarding impeachment are mostly based on precedence and past impeachment proceedings.

How an impeachment inquiry starts:
  • As a result of various events, including receiving "information from an outside source," congressional investigations, or a House resolution introducing articles of impeachment.
The House can then begin 3 formal stages of congressional action:
  1. Authorize an impeachment inquiry by directing the Judiciary Committee to investigate the president. The committee can subpoena people or written records, and conduct hearings.
  2. The Judiciary Committee — or another specially selected committee — prepares articles of impeachment in a "markup," and reports them to the House. For the past 2 presidential impeachments, the Judiciary Committee held a public, televised markup of the impeachment articles for several days.
  3. The full House considers the articles of impeachment and, if they are adopted, appoints managers from the committee to present the articles in the Senate. On the House floor, members are encouraged to abstain from language "personally offensive" to the president.

What's next: After the Senate receives the House resolution, the Senate informs the House when it can present the articles of impeachment to the Senate — which is charged in Constitution with trying the president.

Yes, but: There is no "obvious enforcement mechanism" if the Senate majority leader refuses to hold a trial for a president who has been impeached by the House, the New York Times reports.

  • The Senate's impeachment rules of procedure dictate that the Senate will "immediately inform" the House that it is ready to receive managers to exhibit articles of impeachment.

The bottom line: Only 3 presidents have undergone impeachment proceedings. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached in the House and acquitted in the Senate, while Richard Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment.

Go deeper: Impeachment inquiry could be the best way for Democrats to get Trump documents

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 8 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

The latest: Lawyers for James and Jennifer Crumbley told the Detroit News they are "returning to the area to be arraigned," after law enforcement officials announced a search for the Crumbleys had been initiated.

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