IMPEACHED President Donald Trump joins Johnson, Clinton as case goes to Senate
Divided House votes on articles for only 3rd time in American history
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted Wednesday night to impeach President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for enlisting a foreign ally to investigate a political rival ahead of the 2020 election and later stonewalling Congress.
Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, and the only one in modern times to be running for reelection facing the political equivalent of an indictment.
Democrats led the voting on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, and approved another, obstruction of Congress, in what many framed as their duty to protect the Constitution to uphold the nation’s system of checks and balances.
The House voted 230-197-1 on abuse of power. Two Democrats voted against: Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota. Those two lawmakers and freshman Rep. Jared
Golden, D-Maine, also voted against obstruction of Congress. That vote was 229-198-1.
Republicans stood beside the party’s president who tests the bounds of civic norms calling the whole affair a “witch hunt,” a “hoax” and a “sham,” and sometimes all three.
The articles of impeachment, the political equivalent of an indictment, now go to the Senate for trial. If Trump is acquitted by the GOP-led chamber, as expected, he would have to run for reelection carrying the enduring mark of impeachment on his disruptive presidency.
The trial is expected to begin in January in the Senate, where a vote of twothirds is necessary for conviction.
While Democrats had the majority in the House to impeach Trump, Republicans control the Senate and few if any are expected to diverge from plans to acquit the president ahead of early state election-year primary voting.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, once reluctant to lead Democrats into a partisan impeachment, now risks her majority and speakership to hold the president accountable.
“Today we are here to defend democracy for the people,” Pelosi said opening debate.
Trump, who began the day tweeting his anger at the proceedings, then flew to Battle Creek, Michigan, for a political rally.
He pumped his fist before an enthusiastic crowd, boasted of “tremendous support” in the Republican Party and said, “By the way it doesn’t feel like I’m being impeached.”
What Pelosi called a sad and solemn moment for the country, coming in the first year that Democrats swept control of the House, unfolded in a caustic daylong session that showcased the nation’s divisions — not only along party lines, but also by region, race and culture.
The House impeachment resolution laid out in stark terms the two articles of impeachment against Trump stemming from his July 25 phone call when he asked the Ukraine president for a “favor” — to announce it was investigating Democrats ahead of the 2020 election.
He also pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to probe unsubstantiated corruption allegations against Joe Biden, a 2020 White House contender and the former vice president.
At the time, Zelenskiy, a comedian newly elected to politics, was seeking a coveted White House visit to show backing from the U.S. ally as it confronts a hostile Russia at its border.
He was also counting on $391 million in military aid already approved by Congress. The White House delayed the funds, but Trump eventually released the money once Congress intervened.
Narrow in scope but broad in its charge, the resolution said the president “betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections,” and then obstructed Congress’ oversight like “no president” in U.S. history.
“President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office,” it said.
Republicans argued that Democrats are impeaching Trump because they can’t beat him in 2020.
“This vote is about one thing, and one thing only: They hate this president,” said Rep. Chris Stewart, RUtah. “They want to take away my vote and throw it in the trash.”
But Democrats warned the country cannot wait for the next election to decide whether Trump should remain in office because he has shown a pattern of behavior, particularly toward Russia, and will try to corrupt U.S. elections in 2020.
“The president and his men plot on,” said Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., of the Intelligence Committee that led the inquiry. “The danger persists. The risk is real.”
The outcome brings the Trump presidency to a milestone moment that has building almost from the time the New York businessman-turned-reality-TV host unexpectedly won the White House in 2016 amid questions about Russian interference in the U.S. election — and the rise of the “resistance.”
Democrats drew from history, the Founding Fathers and their own experiences, as minorities, women and some immigrants to the U.S., seeking to honor their oath of office to uphold the constitution.
Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., spoke in Spanish asking God to unite the nation.
“In America,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., “no one is above the law.”
Republicans aired Trump-style grievances about what Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko called a “rigged” process.
“We face this horror because of this map,” said Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Ala., before a poster of red and blue states. “They call this Republican map flyover country, they call us deplorables, they fear our faith, they fear our strength, they fear our unity, they fear our vote, and they fear our president.”
The political fallout from the vote will reverberate across an already polarized country with divergent views of Trump’s July phone call when Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate Democrats in the 2016 election, Biden and his son Hunter, who worked on the board of a gas company in Ukraine while his father was the vice president.
Trump has repeatedly implored Americans to read the transcript of the call he said was “perfect.”
But the facts it revealed, and those in an anonymous whistleblower’s complaint that sparked the probe, are largely undisputed.
More than a dozen current and former White House officials and diplomats testified for hours. The open and closed sessions under oath revealed what one called the “irregular channel” of foreign policy run by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, which focused on investigating the Bidens and alternative theories of 2016 election interference.
Left: President Donald Trump attends a campaign rally Wednesday night in Battle Creek, Mich.
Above: House members mill about the chamber’s floor as voting on abuse of power against President Donald Trump gets underway Wednesday night in Washington.