The deeply divided House of Representatives took the historic step to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday, charging a president with high crimes and misdemeanors for just the third time in American history.
The House voted almost entirely along party lines for two articles of impeachment to remove the President from office — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — sending the case to the Senate for a trial expected to start next month.
The impeachment votes marked the culmination of a sprawling and rapidly moving three-month Democratic investigation into allegations that the President pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals while withholding US security assistance and a White House meeting.
The House voted 230-197 to charge Trump with abuse of power and 229-198 to charge him with obstruction of Congress. The votes were largely split along party lines: just two Democrats voted against both articles, Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who is expected to soon switch parties. A third, Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, voted for one impeachment article. Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, voted present for both articles.
Republican-turned independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan voted to impeach Trump on both counts.
Trump’s impeachment, which occurred 85 days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the opening of the impeachment inquiry, will have long-lasting ramifications across Washington and beyond. It will undoubtedly shape the legacies of the key players in the midst of it, from Pelosi and her committee chairs who led the impeachment proceedings to Trump and his staunchest defenders in Congress.
It’s a scenario that appeared unlikely just months ago for Pelosi, who had resisted the push for Trump’s impeachment from liberal advocates both inside her caucus and outside Capitol Hill. But then an anonymous whistleblower complaint changed the course of history for both Trump and his chief antagonist at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
“We gather today under the dome of this temple of democracy to exercise one of the most solemn powers that this body can take: The impeachment of the President of the United States,” Pelosi said Wednesday to kick off the impeachment debate on the House floor. “If we do not act now we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the President’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice.”
Trump now joins a small club of Presidents who have been impeached by the House for “high crimes and misdemeanors” cited in the Constitution: President Andrew Johnson in 1868 and President Bill Clinton in 1998. President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before impeachment proceedings against him could reach the House floor.
Both Johnson and Clinton were acquitted by the Senate, and there’s effectively zero chance the Republican-controlled Senate will remove Trump from office. But unlike Johnson and Clinton, who were impeached during their second terms, Trump will face reelection less than a year after his impeachment, giving voters the opportunity to have the final word in November 2020.
Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong in his “perfect” July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which formed the basis of the whistleblower complaint. Trump tweeted repeatedly about the impeachment proceedings against him on Wednesday as the House debate unfolded.
“The House Democrats are surrendering the majority, their dignity,” Trump said at a rally in Michigan after learning he’d officially been impeached. “They look like a bunch of fools.”