IM­PEACHED Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump joins John­son, Clin­ton as case goes to Se­nate

Di­vided House votes on ar­ti­cles for only 3rd time in Amer­i­can his­tory

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Lisa Mas­caro and Mary Clare Jalonick

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.

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