The U.S. House Wednesday night took the historic step of impeaching President Donald Trump, setting the stage for a Senate trial that is widely predicted to acquit the president.
House Democrats overwhelmingly voted in favor of the articles of impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, with a couple Democrats defecting to join Republicans in rejecting the measures.
Trump is the third president to ever be impeached, following Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. President Richard Nixon resigned when impeachment and removal from office seemed inevitable.
The article for abuse of power passed 230-197, while obstruction of Congress passed 229-198. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic presidential candidate, voted “present” for both articles.
Lawmakers spent Wednesday on the House floor debating the articles, capping off the three-month inquiry into whether Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden while withholding military aid.
“It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, in opening the debate on the articles of impeachment. “He gives us no choice.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and ranking member Rep. Doug Collins guided the speeches from members. Also spotted on the House floor were Judiciary Committee counsel, including Norm Eisen and Barry Berke, who were hired earlier this year for their legal expertise.
Nadler said lawmakers can’t wait for the 2020 election to see if voters remove Trump from office as a result of his conduct on the Ukraine claims, saying Trump “has demonstrated a clear pattern of wrongdoing.”
Democrats’ belief that Trump poses a danger to the country and the Constitution was a theme that ran throughout their floor speeches.
“He’s shooting holes in our Constitution on Pennsylvania Avenue,” Judiciary Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond said, invoking Trump’s infamous comment that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York and not lose voters. “And our House, the People’s House, must defend our Constitution from a domestic enemy to the rule of law, Donald Trump.”
Republicans, who were united in voting against the articles, at first tried to delay the proceedings, starting with a motion to adjourn at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
But during their floor speeches, they warned that Democrats are setting a dangerous precedent by moving forward with impeachment without hearing from more witnesses and getting more documents as part of the probe.
“This will set a dangerous precedent where impeachment becomes the norm, rather than the exception,” warned GOP Rep. Steve Chabot, who was a House manager during the Clinton impeachment.