And Democrats are on a very tight timeline. Behind-the-scenes testimony is currently scheduled to stretch into November, which means even with the floor vote scheduled for this week, it’s difficult to imagine any scenario in which Democrats will be able to vote on impeachment by Thanksgiving, as some lawmakers originally suggested. Public hearings, which will include highlights from the private testimony, could happen soon, but could also last several weeks, depending on the number of witnesses who are called to testify.
Then once the hearings are over, members of the Judiciary Committee would still have to write (and approve) the articles of impeachment, before sending them to the House for a full vote. Some lawmakers are now suggesting the full vote could happen by Christmas, but even after all that, only one stage of the impeachment process would be over. And provided the House did vote to impeach, Trump’s trial in the Senate would likely not begin until January 2020. It’s hard to know exactly how long the trial would last, but President Bill Clinton’s, for example, lasted roughly five weeks.
The tradeoff of moving to act quickly without hearing from the courts is that Democrats may now be unable to hear from key figures like John Bolton, the former national security advisor who reportedly called the president’s efforts to pressure Ukraine a “drug deal,” or Rudy Giuliani, who appears to have been pulling the strings behind the shadow campaign to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.