WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives voted late Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump on charges that he abused his office and obstructed Congress, with Democrats declaring him a threat to nation and branding an indelible mark on the most turbulent presidency of modern times.
After 11 hours of fierce argument on the House floor between Democrats and Republicans over Trump’s conduct with Ukraine, lawmakers voted almost entirely along party lines to impeach him.
Trump becomes the third president in U.S. history to face trial in the Senate – a proceeding that will determine whether he is removed from office less than one year before he stands for reelection.
On Trump’s 1,062nd day in office, Congress brought a momentous reckoning to an unorthodox president who has tested America’s institutions with an array of unrestrained actions, including some that a collection of his own appointees and other government witnesses testified were reckless and endangered national security.
The Democratic-controlled House passed two articles of impeachment against Trump – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – related to the president’s attempts to withhold military aid to Ukraine and pressure its government to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a potential 2020 Democratic opponent.
The House voted 230 to 197 to approve the article charging abuse of power, with the gavel falling about 8:30 p.m.
On the obstruction of Congress vote, which followed soon after, the tally was 229 to 198.All Republicans voted against both articles.
Among Democrats, two voted no on the first article and three on the second, with one – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii – voting “present” both times.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., framed the day’s proceedings through the long lens of history, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singling out the line, “the republic for which it stands. “Very sadly, now our founders’ vision of a republic is under threat from actions from the White House,” Pelosi said.
She added, “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty.
“The Senate is widely expected to acquit Trump, since conviction and removal would require 67 votes in a chamber where Democrats and their allies hold 47 seats. If Trump were acquitted,
it would launch an unpredictable stretch of his presidency; his reaction would be uncertain after opponents had taken a powerful but ultimately unsuccessful shot at removing him.
In coming days, Pelosi will name House impeachment “managers,” who will act as prosecutors in the Senate trial in January.
The White House, for its part, has begun the process of selecting the lawyers who will mount its defense.
And lawmakers from both parties are heading home for a recess, during which they are likely to confront voters on all sides of the impeachment issue.
Wednesday’s action punctuated a quarter-century of increasingly poisonous partisanship in Washington, one that arguably began during Bill Clinton’s presidency, was extended with rebellions against presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and is culminating in the Trump era.
The intensity and polarization of the debate on the House floor vividly illustrated the extent to which leaders of the two parties now believe entirely different facts and are motivated by different concerns. At times they sounded almost as if they were representing different countries.
Democrats characterized Trump as an immediate threat to the nation he was elected to lead, casting his actions as an unprecedented affront to American values.
Republicans denounced those charges as unsubstantiated and the process as illegitimate, repeatedly accusing the Democrats of seeking to illegally overturn the results of the last election. Trump, who has nursed deep feelings of persecution as his impeachment has grown more likely,
watched the debate unfold from the White House.
Ten minutes after press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement saying the president was “working all day,” Trump vented his fury on Twitter:
“SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!”
Just before the House voted, Trump took the stage in Michigan, where he rallied an estimated 10,000 supporters at a sports arena in Battle Creek – a muscular display of political potency even at the historic low point of his presidency.
“This lawless partisan impeachment is a suicide march for the Democratic Party,” Trump told the crowd.
He added, “After three years of sinister witch hunts, hoaxes, scams, tonight House Democrats are trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans.”Back in Washington, Pelosi sought to rebut allegations from Republicans that her party has cast about since Trump took office for a reason to impeach him, saying no lawmaker of either party came to the Capitol to remove a president.
She said Trump had forced Congress’s hand because he had “violated the Constitution.””He gave us no choice,” Pelosi said, drawing applause from Democrats by declaring that “we are here to defend democracy for the people.
“Barring a drastic shift in momentum, Trump is expected to be acquitted in the Senate, where a two-thirds supermajority is required to remove a president who has been impeached.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he is planning a short trial and declared himself partial to protecting Trump.Nevertheless, Trump’s impeachment by the House will be a defining mark on his legacy.
Source: The Nation