U.S. President Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives Wednesday night, accused of abusing the power of the presidency to benefit himself politically and then obstructing congressional efforts to investigate his actions.
On a near straight party-line vote, the Democrat-controlled House approved two articles of impeachment against Trump, a Republican, making him only the third U.S. president to be impeached in the country’s 243-year history.
Trump, who has scoffed at the impeachment allegations and assailed Democrats for pursuing it, now will likely face a trial in January in the Senate. But the Republican majority in the chamber is highly likely to acquit him, leaving voters to decide Trump’s fate as he seeks a second term in the White House in next November’s national election.
The White House released a statement shortly after the vote, which said, “Today marks the culmination in the House of one of the most shameful political episodes in the history of our Nation.” It called the the actions a “sham impeachment.”
The statement added, “The President is confident the Senate will restore regular order, fairness, and due process, all of which were ignored in the House proceedings. He is prepared for the next steps and confident that he will be fully exonerated.”
The House debated the merits of Trump’s impeachment for more than six hours before voting. Democratic lawmakers pointedly advanced the case for Trump’s impeachment. They alternated with Republicans, who said Trump had done nothing wrong in his monthslong push to get Ukraine to investigate one of Trump’s chief 2020 Democratic challengers, former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden’s lucrative work for a Ukrainian natural gas company and a debunked theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election that Trump won to undermine his campaign.
Trump made the appeal for the Biden investigations directly to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a late July phone call at a time when he was temporarily withholding $391 million in military aid Kyiv wanted to help fight pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Trump eventually released the money in September without Zelenskiy launching the Biden investigations, proof, Republicans said during the House floor debate, that Trump had not engaged in a reciprocal quid pro quo deal, the military aid in exchange for the Biden investigations.
One of the articles of impeachment approved by the House accused Trump of abusing the power of the presidency by soliciting a foreign government, Ukraine, to undertake the investigations to help him run against Biden, who is leading national polls of Democrats in the race for the party’s presidential nomination to oppose Trump next year.
In the 230-197 vote on Article I, all but two Democrats voted for approval, and all Republicans voted against it.
The second impeachment allegation said Trump obstructed Congress by withholding thousands of Ukraine-related documents from House impeachment investigators and then blocking key officials in his administration from testifying during weeks of hearings Democratic-controlled committees conducted into Trump’s actions related to Ukraine.
In the 229-198 vote on Article 11, all but three Democrats voted for approval, and all Republicans voted against it.
The House meets again Thursday morning.
Earlier Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened the debate, telling lawmakers that Trump “gave us no choice” but to pursue his impeachment.
“If we do not act,” she said, “we would be derelict in our duty. Today, we are here to defend democracy.”
Republican Congressman Doug Collins, one of Trump’s staunchest supporters, dismissed Pelosi’s assessment of Trump, contending Democrats have wanted to impeach Trump since he was elected three years ago. Now, Collins said, rather than the House impeaching Trump less than a year before he seeks re-election in 2020, it should be “a matter for the voters” to decide his fate.”The president did nothing wrong,” Collins said.
Trump, hours after he sent a scathing six-page letter to Pelosi deriding Democrats’ impeachment effort against him, took to Twitter early Wednesday to continue to attack his political opponents.
“Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG!” he said. “A terrible Thing. Read the Transcripts. This should never happen to another President again. Say a PRAYER!”
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