House Impeaches Trump for Abuse of Power, Obstruction of Congress

For the third time in U.S. history, the House of Representatives voted to impeach a sitting president, passing two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, December 18 for violating his oath of office and abusing his presidential powers. 

House lawmakers voted almost entirely along party lines, 230-197, in favor of impeaching Trump for abuse of power, followed by a second vote, 229-198, accusing the president of obstructing Congress. 

According to The New York Times, no Republicans voted against Trump. Two Democrats, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota, voted with Republicans against both articles, and Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii voted “present” on both articles.

Hours before the vote Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took to the House floor, saying it was imperative to impeach Trump because the president is “an ongoing threat to our national security and the integrity of our elections.”

“It is an established fact the president violated the Constitution,” Pelosi said, standing beside a poster with the U.S. flag and the phrase “To the Republic, for which it stands…” below. 

Trump, who was at a political rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, took to the stage just before the vote, telling the crowd, “It doesn’t really feel like we're being impeached. The country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong. And we have tremendous support in the Republican Party like we have never had before. Nobody has ever had this kind of support.”

During the tense 10 hours of debate over the article of impeachment, Democrats and Republicans accused one another of acting in bad faith. 

Democrats inculpated their counterparts of willfully turning a blind eye to the president’s wrongdoings, arguing that Trump abused his presidential powers in pressuring Ukraine to dig up damaging information on one of his main Democratic challengers for the presidency in 2020, Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden, while withholding nearly $400 million in military aid that Congress had already allocated. Furthermore, Democratic lawmakers charged Trump with “unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance” as they sought to investigate his actions. According to The Huffington Post, the White House refused to turn over any documents related to the impeachment inquiry and a number of Trump administration officials ignored subpoenas to testify. 

The key evidence supporting Democrats’ charge is a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which a rough transcript revealed that Trump had urged Zelensky to investigate discredited allegations against Biden and his son, BBC News reports. A formal complaint from a whistleblower, an unnamed intelligence official who expressed concern about the call, kicked off the impeachment process in early September. 

“In America, no one is above the law,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said on the floor Wednesday. “Donald J. Trump sacrificed our national security in an effort to cheat in the next election. And for that and his continued efforts to seek foreign interference in our elections, he must be impeached.”

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, GOP members accused Democrats of having plotted to impeach the president since he was elected, railing against them over the process. 

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) argued that history would not be kind to Democrats. “You are the ones interfering in America’s election,” he said. “You are the ones subverting America’s democracy. You are the ones obstructing justice. You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our republic for your own selfish personal, political and partisan gain.”

Now, all eyes rest on the Senate, where Trump will now face his impeachment trial. Senate leadership, however, is already clashing over this next phase. 

In truth, Trump faces little threat of being removed from office, as Senate Republicans seem determined to acquit the president. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said last week that he was working “in total coordination” with the White House, adding that it was his hope that “there won’t be a single Republican who votes for either of these articles of impeachment.”

McConnell, taking to the Senate floor Wednesday, also pushed back against Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s call to have witnesses testify in the case, but Schumer stood by his request saying, “I have yet to hear an explanation why less evidence is better than more evidence, particularly when it comes to something as somber, as serious, as important as impeachment of the president of the United States of America.”

For now, it remains unclear when Pelosi will deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate, saying she needs to know the structure of the trial before naming the managers and echoing Schumer’s complaints regarding fairness, ABC News reports. 

The Senate trial will most likely begin next month.