Articles of impeachment: Explaining what's next in the House

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meets with reporters during her weekly news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Democrats will draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, a crucial step toward a vote of the full House.

The articles are likely to mostly encompass Democrats' findings on Trump's dealings with Ukraine. Democrats are still writing them, but the articles could charge Trump with abuse of office, bribery and obstruction.

Lawmakers and staff are expected to finish drafting the articles in the coming days, a process that is being led by Pelosi and the House Judiciary Committee. That panel could approve the articles as early as next week, setting up a vote of the full House in the days before Christmas.

A breakdown of what it means, how the process works and what the articles might say:

WHAT ARE ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT?

Articles of impeachment are charges against the president. If the House approves them, they are then sent to the Senate for a trial and eventual vote. There can be as few or as many articles as the House decides.

In a Senate trial, senators are jurors and select House members act as prosecutors, or impeachment managers. The chief justice of the Supreme Court presides. If the Senate approves an article of impeachment with a two-thirds vote of “guilty,” the president is convicted and removed from office. If all the articles are rejected, the president is acquitted.

While the process has the trappings of a criminal trial, the decision is purely political.