In an historic vote Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 230-197 to impeach Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power, making him the third president in U.S. history to get impeached. The House quickly voted 229-198 on a second article of impeachment, which charges Trump with obstruction of Congress.
In a vote that ran almost uniformly along partisan lines, the House was able to recruit enough votes for both articles of impeachment. The two articles of impeachment alleges that Trump abused his presidential power when he withheld military aid from Ukraine in an attempt to solicit cooperation in his quest to have former Vice President Joe Biden investigated before obstructing the congressional investigation into his alleged misconduct. Following a day-long debate that featured contentious and hostile deliberations, every Democrat save for three voted in favor of impeachment on charges of abuse of power while every Republican House representative voted in opposition. Only four Democrats voted against charges of obstruction of Congress.
Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ), who announced his intention to switch parties, and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) voted against both articles of impeachment. Representative Jared Golden (D-ME) voted yes for abuse of power and no for obstruction of Congress while presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) voted “present” on both matters.
Democratic members of the House contend that Trump conditioned $391 million dollars of military aid pending the launch of an investigation, using testimony from key White House officials and a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to support their case. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) stated that Trump had broken his oath to office.
“[Trump’s] conduct continues to undermine our Constitution and threaten our next election,” said Nadler. “His actions warrant his impeachment and demand his removal from office.”
According to the Democratic House majority, Trump engaged in “unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance” when he instructed key witnesses to defy congressional subpoenas, engaging in what House Democrats categorized as a pattern of apathy toward congressional proceedings and policies. Representative Adam Schiff (D-Ca.) infamously incorporated one of Trump’s tweets into his official line of questioning, asking former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch whether or not she interpreted Trump’s tweets to be as an attempt to intimidate her as a witness.
Republicans attempted to dissect such accusations, claiming Trump was the victim of a political vendetta with the underlying purpose of dismantling the results of the 2016 presidential election. Republicans hyperbolized the entire process, comparing the Democrats’ impeachment strategy to lynching, the Salem Witch Trials and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
“Before you take this historic vote today, one week before Christmas, keep this in mind,” said Barry Loudermilk (R-GA). “When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers.”
Senate Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have been transparent about their contempt toward the impeachment process, with McConnell expressing his willingness to coordinate a defense alongside White House lawyers. The Constitution requires a two-thirds, supermajority vote from those present in the Senate, which currently features 51 Republican Senators, 47 Democratic Senators, and two independent Senators, in order to convict Trump and subsequently remove him from office.
Trump joins former presidents Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson as the only sitting presidents to be impeached. The primary charge against Johnson, who had 11 articles of impeachment introduced against him, stemmed from his defiance of the then-newly enacted Tenure of Office Act and his subsequent firing of cabinet member Edward Stanton. However, Johnson was also widely detested for his liberal use of vetoes–he used 15, more than any other president in history–and his noncompliance with the Reconstruction Era envisioned by Abraham Lincoln.
Clinton was impeached by a vote of 228-to-206 on grounds of perjury to a grand jury and a 221-to-212 vote for obstruction of justice after he fabricated a narrative about his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Neither Johnson nor Clinton was removed from office by the Senate.
The Senate is expected to begin deliberation in early January. Should the Senate vote to remove Trump from office, Vice President Mike Pence would secede Trump as second-in-command. However, barring a remarkable change of heart, the Senate is expected to acquit President Trump.