House impeaches Trump for abuse of power

Editor’s note: House Democrats have also passed a second article of impeachment against President Trump, accusing him of obstructing Congress. Click here to read the updated story.

House Democrats on Wednesday impeached President Trump for abusing his power, the first of two impeachment articles the lower chamber is poised to adopt in historic votes alleging the president is unfit for office.

Lawmakers voted 230-197 to impeach Trump for abusing his power, with two Democrats, Reps. Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.), crossing the aisle in dissent. Another Democrat, 2020 White House contender Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), voted present. Republicans, meanwhile, remained unified in their defense of the president, describing the impeachment inquiry as a purely partisan pursuit spearheaded by Democrats still embittered by the results of the 2016 election.

The House is poised to soon take up a second article of impeachment charging Trump with obstruction of Congress, which is also expected to pass easily in a similar party-line vote. Aside from Peterson and Van Drew, Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) has also said he’ll oppose the obstruction charge despite supporting the abuse-of-power article.

The historic vote makes Trump just the third president to be impeached in the nation’s history — and the first to suffer that indignity in his first term.

The vote marked the culmination of the Democrats’ months-long investigation into Trump’s handling of foreign policy in Kyiv, triggered in September by a government whistleblower’s allegation that the president had abused his powers in withholding military aid and the promise of a White House meeting to press Ukrainian leaders to launch anti-corruption investigations that might have helped his reelection in 2020. 

Dressed in black to mark the somber occasion, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) framed the extraordinary maneuver as a congressional obligation — the Constitution’s only remedy for protecting America’s democratic institutions from a lawless president who would seek foreign help to sway a U.S. election.

“If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty,” Pelosi said. 

“It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary,” she added. “He gave us no choice.”

Republicans countered with equal vigor, defending their White House ally with accusations that Democrats had orchestrated a discriminatory process that exaggerated the gathered evidence and denied Trump a fair defense.

“There is a rush job … because they want to influence the 2020 elections,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who had served as a manager during the impeachment of former President Clinton. 

Wednesday’s votes in the House will send the two articles to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he’ll hold an impeachment trial early next year. It’s widely expected that the GOP-controlled Senate will fall far short of the two-thirds majority required to convict Trump, meaning he will almost certainly join the small club of presidents — including Andrew Johnson and Clinton — to be impeached but remain in office.

Tags Bill Clinton Collin Peterson Donald Trump Impeachment Jeff Van Drew Jim Sensenbrenner Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Tulsi Gabbard

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