The most unpredictable of presidents, got the most predictable of outcomes.
WASHINGTON (CNN/API) – The House of Representatives took the historic step to impeach Donald Trump on Wednesday December 18 2019, charging a president with high crimes and misdemeanors for just the third time in American history.
The House voted almost entirely along party lines for two articles of impeachment to remove the President from office — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — sending the case to the Senate for a trial expected to start next month.
The impeachment votes marked the culmination of a sprawling and rapidly moving three-month Democratic investigation into allegations that the President pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals while withholding US security assistance and a White House meeting.
The House voted 230-197 to charge Trump with abuse of power and 229-198 to charge him with obstruction of Congress.
Trump’s impeachment, which occurred 85 days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the opening of the impeachment inquiry, will have long-lasting ramifications across Washington and beyond.
This scenario appeared quite unlikely just months ago for Nancy Pelosi, who had resisted the push for Trump’s impeachment from liberal advocates both inside her caucus and outside Capitol Hill. But then the anonymous whistleblower complaint changed the course of history for both Trump and his chief antagonist at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Trump now joins a small club of Presidents who have been impeached by the House for “high crimes and misdemeanors” cited in the Constitution:
- Andrew Johnson in 1868
- Bill Clinton in 1998.
- Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before impeachment proceedings against him could reach the House floor.
Both Johnson and Clinton were acquitted by the Senate, and there’s effectively zero chance the Republican-controlled Senate will remove Trump from office. But unlike Johnson and Clinton, who were impeached during their second terms, Trump will face reelection less than a year after his impeachment, giving voters the opportunity to have the final word in November 2020.
Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong in his “perfect” July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which formed the basis of the whistleblower complaint. Trump tweeted repeatedly about the impeachment proceedings against him on Wednesday as the House debate unfolded.
“The House Democrats are surrendering the majority, their dignity,” Trump said at a rally in Michigan after learning he’d officially been impeached. “They look like a bunch of fools.”
Pelosi won’t commit to sending articles
Wednesday’s vote shifts the impeachment proceedings to the Senate, where a trial is expected in January. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Republican senators at a policy lunch Tuesday that he will announce by the end of the week the date for the start of the Senate trial, according to sources.
But Pelosi, at a news conference after the vote, would not commit to sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate, saying “that would have been our intention, but we’ll see what happens over there.”
McConnell addressed impeachment on the Senate floor later Thursday morning, calling the Democratic-led effort “the most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history.” He said Pelosi’s delay in sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate was a sign that “House Democrats may be too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the Senate.”
Democrats say that Trump was impeached because he abused his office by directing a pressure campaign for Ukraine to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, conditioning $400 million in US security aid and a one-on-one White House meeting on the investigation. Then Trump covered up his misconduct, Democrats say, obstructing Congress by stonewalling all the subpoenas from Congress trying to investigate his conduct.
Leading up to Wednesday’s vote, no Republicans signaled they were considering voting to impeach the President. The looming question was whether moderate Democrats — the 31 who represented congressional districts Trump won in 2016 — would support impeachment.
One by one, almost every one of the 31 Democrats said they were compelled to vote for impeachment. Only Peterson, a veteran lawmaker from a deeply red rural Minnesota district, and Van Drew, who signaled he would soon switch parties, said they were opposed to impeachment altogether. Golden split the difference, voting for abuse of power and against obstruction of Congress.
For House Democrats, the next step to prepare for the trial is to name impeachment managers who will prosecute the case in the Senate. Wednesday’s vote also paved the way for the House to approve a resolution announcing the managers — though they aren’t likely to be named until the House sends the articles to the Senate.
The Yucatan Times