Washington, Dec 19 House Democrats took the historic step on Dec 18 of impeaching President Trump, a move that will have long-lasting reverberations throughout the country as the landmark votes set up a likely January trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Trump is expected to be acquitted.
Trump is charged with two articles with abusing power in his dealings with Ukraine and obstructing Congress in their investigation of those actions.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives voted largely along party lines on Wednesday, marking the most sectarian and contentious of the three presidential impeachments since the nation’s founding and the first to target a president in his first term.
Lawmakers voted 230 to 197 on the resolution accusing Trump of abusing his power, with all Republicans opposed and only two Democrats — Reps. Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.) — crossing the aisle in dissent. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), a Democratic presidential candidate, voted “present.”
On the second article, lawmakers voted 229-198 approving it and Gabbard voting “present.” Republicans were again unanimous in rejecting the measure, while a third Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden (Maine), joined Peterson and Van Drew in opposition.
The entire process of impeachment which culminate din votes on Wednesday was triggered by a government whistleblower’s allegations that the President had threatened national security on a July 25 phone call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to open an investigation into Joe Biden,a potential 2020 Democratic opponent and his son, Hunter, who had served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
The president withheld military aid and pressurized Ukrainian leaders to investigate his political rivals.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was dressed in black to mark the somber occasion and said, “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty,” Pelosi said.
“It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary,” she added. “He gave us no choice.”
“There is a rush-job … because they want to influence the 2020 elections,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who served as a manager during the Clinton impeachment.
Senate Trial in January :Trump will now be formally tried by the Senate on the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his dealings with Ukraine and the House investigation of it. The impeachment will not affect Trump’s presidency either as the Republican-controlled Senate will acquit him.
Former Presidents Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, but neither was convicted and forced out of the White House. Impeachment proceedings were launched against Richard Nixon, but he quit in the middle of the process.
Trump, who was campaigning in Michigan while the impeachment vote was taking place in Washington, said: “After three years of sinister witch hunts, hoaxes, scams, tonight, House Democrats are trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans.”
He unleashed a series of personal invectives against several Democrats calling Hillary Clinton “horrible person”, and saying that a dead Democrat Congressman was looking up and not down.
By Arti Bali