From coronavirus to Trump: 2020’s top 5 political stories

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Top 5 political stories of 2020.

2020 was a year unlike any other in U.S. history. Before we embark on 2021 and the promise that it brings, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s content curation desk is taking a look back at the most impactful stories of 2020 and their effects on Georgia and the rest of the nation. Today’s topic: Politics

5. President Trump’s impeachment

President Donald Trump became the third U.S. president to be impeached. In 1868, President Andrew Johnson was impeached on 11 counts, including “high crimes and misdemeanors,” followed by President Bill Clinton’s 1998 impeachment on two counts of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

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The impeachment vote, only the third in the country's history, ended as the previous two did with an acquittal of the president.

What started as Trump’s request for Ukraine to “do us a favor” spun into a far-reaching, 28,000-page report compiled by House investigators accusing an American president of engaging in shadow diplomacy that threatened U.S. foreign relations for personal and political gain as he pressured the ally to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election.

Late in 2019, the Democratic-led House impeached Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. On Feb. 5, 2020, the GOP-led Senate acquitted him. Georgia’s two U.S. senators — David Perdue and the newly appointed Kelly Loeffler — voted to acquit Trump. Georgia Congressman Doug Collins gained national recognition as one of Trump’s most strident advocates in the House.

4. State of the Union address

Just hours before his eventual acquittal, President Trump delivered his State of the Union address before a divided Congress. On taking the House dais, Trump did not acknowledge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s brief attempt at a handshake.

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Nancy Pelosi rips up Trump's State of the Union speech On the eve of President Donald Trump'slikely acquittal of his impeachment charges, Speaker Pelosi tore his speech in half just as he concluded with the words, "the best is yet to come."

Just seconds after Trump’s speech — which included the public pronouncement that conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh had been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — Pelosi ripped her copy of Trump’s address in half, yet another symbol of the growing divide between Republicans and Democrats.

3. Coronavirus pandemic

On Jan. 9, the World Health Organization announced mysterious cases of pneumonia-like illnesses in Wuhan, China. On Jan. 21, the first U.S. case was confirmed by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, thus setting in motion a series of events unlike any in American political history.

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WHO declares coronavirus a pandemic

Before the end of the month, the WHO declared a global health emergency, followed by Trump’s declaration of a public health emergency on Feb. 3; WHO’s pandemic declaration on March 11; and Trump’s declaration of a national state of emergency on March 13. The CDC became a lightning rod for criticism for its handling of the pandemic by the president.

Every state in the nation was forced to take steps to prepare to hold state and federal elections during the middle of a public health pandemic.

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Trump returns to White House after being discharged from hospital

Just weeks before the Nov. 3 election, Trump contracted the coronavirus, and he spent several days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment.

2. Early voting in general election

More than 100 million people voted absentee and early in the 2020 general election, the most in American history, including almost 4 million in Georgia.

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Early voting begins across Georgia today for those who prefer to vote in person instead of by mail.

Voters took the polls early as states offered extensive early voting options and availabilities in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. President Trump was openly critical of some states’ early voting programs and supportive of others.

Credit: AJC

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Trump slams mail-in voting

Credit: AJC

He also cast doubt on the U.S. Postal Service’s ability and reliability to deliver ballots without fraud, while Democrats seized on the pandemic in an effort to further promote vote-by-mail.

1. Joe Biden elected president

Receiving more votes than any candidate in U.S. history, Joe Biden became the oldest man elected president.

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Joe Biden defeated Trump and was declared the 46th President of the United States on Saturday morning.

Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, became the first woman and person of color elected vice president.

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Senator Kamala Harris gave her official acceptance speech for vice president nomination.

With a campaign once declared all but dead, Biden won the South Carolina primary early in late February, then steamrolled to wins on Super Tuesday and virtually every other state primary. A field once dominated by a record number of minorities and women — including Harris — fell by the wayside, and Democrats chose a 77-year-old white man to lead their effort to oust Trump from the Oval Office.

Biden was declared the 46th president of the United States less than a week after the Nov. 3 election, as several states, including Georgia, painstakingly counted and recounted ballots. Biden also won Georgia, the first Democrat to win the state since Bill Clinton’s victory in 1992.

Other stories in the series

»Top 5 sports stories

»Top 5 weather stories

»Top 5 business stories

»Notable deaths

»Top 5 coronavirus stories

»Top 5 social justice stories

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