President Donald Trump became the third American president to be impeached Wednesday night, as U.S. House of Representatives voted to charge the nation’s 45th president with high crimes and misdemeanors.
The first article of impeachment, charging Trump with abuse of power, came around 8:20 p.m., after hours of debate on Capitol Hill. The final vote was 230 to 197, with two Democrats voting against the first article, and no Republicans in support.
The House then voted to approve the second article, obstruction of Congress, around 8:45 p.m. The second vote was 229 to 198, with three Democrats voting against the impeachment and no Republicans in favor.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential hopeful, was one of the first prominent figures to speak out via Twitter about the vote.
Sen. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), the only Democratic presidential hopeful eligible to vote on the impeachment, did not vote for or against it Wednesday night. Instead, she voted “present.”
"After doing my due diligence in reviewing the 658-page impeachment report, I came to the conclusion that I could not in good conscience vote either yes or no," she said in a thorough statement issued immediately after her vote was cast.
"I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing," she added.
"I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because removal of a sitting president must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country."
The president himself published this cryptic tweet later in the evening:
“Today marks the culmination in the House of one of the most shameful political episodes in the history of our nation,” the White House’s official statement said. “Without receiving a single Republican vote, and without providing any proof of wrongdoing, Democrats pushed illegitimate articles of impeachment against the President through the House of Representatives. Democrats have chosen to proceed on this partisan basis in spite of the fact that the President did absolutely nothing wrong. Indeed, weeks of hearings have proved that he did nothing wrong.
“The American people are not fooled by this disgraceful behavior. They understand fairness, due process, and substantial, reliable evidence are required before any American should be charged with wrongdoing—and certainly before impeaching a duly elected President.”
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Georgia) shared his continued contempt of the impeachment process following the announcement of the impeachment based on both articles. The Gainesvillle Republican posted a letter on his Twitter around 9 p.m. Wednesday.
Today, House Democrats made a conscious effort to ignore the will and abandon the interests of their fellow Americans,” the letter reads. “...They’re resolute. They intend to overturn the will of the people whenever it conflicts with the will of liberal elites, and that albatross will hang heavy around their necks for generations to come.”
The hashtag #impeached began trending quickly on Twitter Wednesday night, with many marveling at the fact that the historic vote swung toward impeachment.
Others pointed out that the impeachment in of itself did not mean the country would see any immediate changes.
Before Wednesday’s vote
House Democrats convened to adopt the rules for the impeachment debate shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday. The rules were adopted around 11:30 a.m., a period followed by hours of debate evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.
On Tuesday night, the House rules committee reported the articles out of committee by a party line, 9-4 vote, setting the stage for Wednesday’s vote.
Also on Tuesday, the president delivered a blistering letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, warning “the American people will hold you and the Democrats fully responsible in the upcoming 2020 election. They will not soon forgive your perversion of justice and abuse of power.”
Trump will becomes only the third sitting president in American history to be impeached, joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.
The House Judiciary Committee had passed articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon, who resigned before the full House could vote.
The two articles of impeachment by House Democrats −abuse of power and obstruction of Congress − point to Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate 2020 political rival Joe Biden while withholding as leverage military aid the country relies to counter Russia as well as his efforts to block the House investigation.
A Senate impeachment trial could begin as soon as early January.
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