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House votes to send impeachment articles to Senate

House Democrats voted Wednesday to send a pair of articles of impeachment to the Senate, a move that launches a trial in the upper chamber and ends the weeks-long wait for phase two in the Democrats' effort to remove President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS US raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks MORE from office.

The vote, scheduled by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe growing threat of China's lawfare Pelosi planned on retiring until Trump won election: report Biden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' MORE (D-Calif.) after a month of speculation over timing, cut virtually across party lines, with 227 Democrats supporting the resolution and 192 Republicans opposing it. 

The final vote tally, however, was 228-193 with Rep. Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonSix ways to visualize a divided America On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump admin to sell oil leases at Arctic wildlife refuge before Biden takes office |Trump administration approves controversial oil testing method in Gulf of Mexico | Rep. Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel MORE (D-Minn.), who voted against the impeachment articles, being the only Democrat to buck the party line and vote against the resolution. Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashBiden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' Battle rages over vaccine passports Republicans eye primaries in impeachment vote MORE (I-Mich.), who switched from Republican to Independent last year, voted in favor of the resolution.

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Aside from transmitting the articles, the resolution also provides funding for the impeachment process and officially appoints the seven Democrats who will serve as impeachment managers, whom Pelosi named shortly before Wednesday’s vote. 

These members will act essentially as prosecutors, making their case before the GOP-controlled Senate that Trump should be removed from office. The articles focus on two separate charges — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — related to Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukrainian leaders to find dirt on his domestic political rivals.

Democrats voted largely along party lines to impeach Trump on these two impeachment articles on Dec. 18.

Shortly after that historic vote — which made Trump just the third U.S. president to be impeached — Pelosi chose to withhold the articles from the upper chamber as leverage to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists MORE (R-Ky.) to allow witnesses and other new evidence to be considered as part of the trial.

The move triggered a clash of the political titans, with both leaders using the undefined constitutional rules of impeachment to their strategic advantage.

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A break in the stalemate came when Pelosi, facing pressure from both parties in the Senate, chose to transmit the articles even as McConnell indicated he had the Republican votes to adopt a set of trial rules that excluded guaranteed votes on potential witnesses, as Democrats have demanded. 

In a separate controversial move, McConnell had also endorsed a GOP resolution that would change the Senate rules to allow a vote dismissing the articles without a trial — if Pelosi did not turn them over to the upper chamber by a specified date.

McConnell has indicated he does not want to call in witnesses and would rather focus on a speedy trial that is widely expected to acquit the president in the GOP-controlled Senate, where a two-thirds majority is required to remove a sitting president. The Republican leader has said he’s simply adopting the Clinton impeachment model, where senators vote first on a resolution to start the trial and then later on requests to bring in potential witnesses.

Democrats believe McConnell will bury the second resolution by arguing the trial has already gone on too long.

Still, Pelosi’s political gamble helped Democrats reap some fire power. 

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John BoltonJohn BoltonColin Kahl's nomination will be a disaster for Israel and the region Why is the Biden administration more interested in confrontation than cooperation? Trump offered North Korea's Kim a ride home on Air Force One: report MORE announced last week that he would be willing to testify publicly if the Senate subpoenaed him, sparking a wave of Democrats — and even a few Republicans — saying they want to hear the former national security adviser speak.

And on Tuesday, Democrats on the Intelligence panel released new information on Lev Parnas, a close associate of Trump's personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGaetz hires legal counsel amid DOJ probe Georgia lieutenant governor: Giuliani election claims helped lead to new voting law Rep. Lee Zeldin announces bid for New York governor MORE. The documents include text messages, notes and other communications he had with Giuliani and other Trump officials, which further highlighted efforts to push out former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchBlinken tells State Department staff 'I have your back' Trump has discussed possible pardons for three eldest children, Kushner: report Former Giuliani associates plead not guilty to new fraud charges MORE and dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden taps California workplace safety leader to head up OSHA Romney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS US mulling cash payments to help curb migration MORE and his son. 

Senate Democrats need at least four Republicans to vote in favor of witnesses. So far, only three have emerged to express any interest in that strategy.