The news did not break with a bang, but slipped out quietly. A leading New York Democrat says an impeachment inquiry against President Trump is already underway.

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, confirmed the significant development in a series of interviews Thursday night, saying it has grown out of his committee's investigations into the President.

“This is formal impeachment proceedings. We are investigating all the evidence,” Nadler said. “We are gathering the evidence. And we will at the conclusion of this, hopefully by the end of the year, vote to [bring] articles of impeachment to the house floor or we won't. That's a decision we will have to make.”

Support has been growing among House Democrats for impeachment proceedings to begin, especially after former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified last month about his investigation into Russian election interference and President Trump. But some Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have been more cautious, fearing political blowback in the 2020 presidential election as they target Trump.

Elizabeth Holtzman is a former member of Congress who sat on the House Judiciary Committee when it voted to impeach President Nixon. She is also the author of "The Case for Impeaching Trump."

“If Congress does the right thing in the right way and checks a president who is abusing the power of his office and threatening our democracy, I believe that the American people will support that,” Holtzman said.

A president can be impeached if lawmakers determine he or she has committed "high crimes and misdemeanors." Just because an impeachment inquiry has begun does not mean the House will vote to impeach Trump.

For Trump to be forced from office, the Senate would have to hold a trial and two-thirds of the Senate would need to vote to remove him. Republicans, however, control the Senate, so such an outcome is highly unlikely.