US Politics: Donald Trump impeached, faces Senate trial
The House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Donald Trump on both articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The vote followed weeks of testimony related to his dealings with Ukraine and hours of fiery debate over the process.
Both votes fell along party lines with nearly all Democrats voting for the charges and all Republicans against.
The proceedings on Wednesday began with members of President Trump’s Republican Party calling for votes on procedural issues in an effort to frustrate the process.
That was followed by a vote on the rules to be set out for the impeachment, which kicked off six hours of partisan debate on the merits of the two impeachment charges against President Trump.
At about 01:30am, (Nigeria’s time) the House called for votes on the two charges: first, abuse of power, stemming from Mr Trump’s alleged attempt to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into his Democratic political rival, Joe Biden; and second, obstruction of Congress, because the president allegedly refused to co-operate with the impeachment inquiry, withholding documentary evidence and barring his key aides from giving evidence.
The vote for the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, was passed 230-197 and the second, for obstruction of Congress, 229-198.
As voting took place, President Trump was addressing a campaign rally.
He told the crowd in Battle Creek, Michigan: “While we’re creating jobs and fighting for Michigan, the radical left in Congress is consumed with envy and hatred and rage, you see what’s going on.”
The White House released a statement saying that the president was “confident that he will be fully exonerated” in a Senate trial.
Being impeached places Donald Trump alongside only two other presidents in the nation’s history – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton – and sets up a trial in the Senate for his presidency.
During the House debates, Mr Trump tweeted several times, calling the Democratic arguments “ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT” and an “ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!”.
The Republican Party has a majority in the Senate, making it highly unlikely the president will be removed from office when senators cast their votes. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell last week said that Republican senators would act in “total co-ordination” with the president’s team during the trial, outraging Democrats who pointed out that Senators are obliged to act as impartial jurors.