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

Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage"

Former President Barack Obama launched a blistering attack on President Trump while campaigning for Joe Biden in Orlando on Tuesday, criticizing Trump for complaining about the pandemic as cases soar and joking that he's "jealous of COVID's media coverage."

Driving the news: Trump has baselessly accused the news media of only focusing on covering the coronavirus pandemic — which has killed over 226,000 Americans so far and is surging across the country once again — as a way to deter people from voting on Election Day and distract from other issues.

Wisconsin Democrats: Don't return absentee ballots by mail

Signs for Joe Biden are seen outside a home in Coon Valle, Wisconsin, on Oct. 3. Photo by KEREM YUCEL via Getty

Wisconsin Democrats are urging voters to return absentee ballots to election clerks’ offices or drop boxes after a Supreme Court decision on Monday prevented the state from extending its deadline for counting absentee ballots, The New York Times reports.

Why it matters: 1,344,535 of the 1,706,771 Wisconsin voters who requested absentee ballots have returned them, according to the Times. The remaining 366,236 could prove critical in the battleground state, where President Trump won by a thin margin in 2016.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Winter coronavirus threat spurs new surge of startup activity

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

U.S. coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging, with cold weather arriving before even the best-case scenario for a widely distributed vaccine. Now we're also beginning to see an increase in coronavirus-related startup funding, focused on both testing and pharma.

Driving the news: Gauss, a Silicon Valley computer vision startup focused on health care, tells Axios that it's raised $10 million to accelerate development and commercialization of an at-home rapid antigen test for COVID-19.

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