Your impeachment questions, answered
Today, ex-diplomat Kurt Volker is testifying before three Congressional committees — making him the first official to testify about the whistleblower complaint in the scandal that has led to an impeachment inquiry.
Can Congress impeach Trump based solely on written documents like the whistleblower's complaint or special counsel Robert Mueller's report?
Yes. Article I of the Constitution broadly grants the House the "sole power of impeachment," but says nothing whatsoever about how an impeachment proceeding must be conducted, or what type and quantum of evidence is necessary to impeach.
This is different from federal criminal trials, which are governed by specific rules of procedure, rules of evidence and the requirement that the prosecutor prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
In fact, when the House impeached President Bill Clinton in 1998, it did so solely on the basis of Independent Counsel Ken Starr's written report and supporting evidence. The House called no live fact witnesses and introduced no additional evidence.
That said, the House will conduct its own investigation into the Ukraine scandal in the coming weeks and months. Pelosi has announced that the six major House committees — Judiciary, Intelligence, Ways and Means, Oversight, Financial Services and Foreign Affairs — will each investigate and then forward recommendations to the Judiciary Committee, which in turn will decide whether to recommend articles of impeachment (and if so, which ones) for a vote by the full House.
Such investigation seems necessary here because many of the key questions around the Ukraine scandal remain unanswered. So, the House's investigation will be crucial to determining whether an adequate basis exists for impeachment.