Trump Impeached On Abuse of Power And Obstruction of Congress

For the third time in history, an American President has been impeached.

Early yesterday evening, after nearly twelve hours of debate and procedural moves, the House of Representatives formally impeached President Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, making him the third President in American history to be impeached:

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, making him the third president in history to be charged with committing high crimes and misdemeanors and face removal by the Senate.

On a day of constitutional consequence and raging partisan tension, the votes on the two articles of impeachment fell largely along party lines, after a bitter debate that stretched into the evening and reflected the deep polarization gripping American politics in the Trump era.

Only two Democrats opposed the article on abuse of power, which accused Mr. Trump of corruptly using the levers of government to solicit election assistance from Ukraine in the form of investigations to discredit his Democratic political rivals. Republicans were united in opposition. It passed 230 to 197, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveling the vote to a close from the House rostrum.

On the second charge, obstruction of Congress, a third Democrat joined Republicans in opposition. The vote was 229 to 198.

The impeachment votes set the stage for a historic trial beginning early next year in the Senate, which will have final say — 10 months before Mr. Trump faces re-election — on whether to acquit the 45th president or convict and remove him from office. The timing was uncertain, after Ms. Pelosi suggested late Wednesday that she might wait to send the articles to the Senate, holding them out as leverage in a negotiation on the terms of a trial.

(…)

United in their opposition, Republicans accused the Democrats, who fought their way back from political oblivion in 2016 to win the House in 2018, of misusing the power voters had invested in them to harangue a president they never viewed as legitimate by manufacturing a case against him. Though they conceded few of them, they insisted the facts against Mr. Trump nonetheless fell woefully short of impeachment.
“When all is said and done, when the history of this impeachment is written, it will be said that my Washington Democrat friends couldn’t bring themselves to work with Donald Trump, so they consoled themselves instead by silencing the will of those who did, the American people,” said Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina

Throughout the inquiry, even as Republicans raged against the process and sought to offer benign explanations for Mr. Trump’s conduct, none disputed the central facts that served as its basis: that he asked Ukraine’s president to “do us a favor” and investigate Mr. Biden, a prospective rival in the 2020 campaign, and other Democrats.

Mr. Trump’s impeachment had the potential to change the trajectory of his presidency and redefine an already volatile political landscape. Democrats, including the most vulnerable moderates, embraced the articles of impeachment with the full knowledge that doing so could damage them politically, potentially even costing them control of the House.

More from The Washington Post:

The House of Representatives voted late Wednesday to impeach President Trump on charges that he abused his office and obstructed Congress, with Democrats declaring him a threat to the nation and branding an indelible mark on the most turbulent presidency of modern times.

After 11 hours of fierce argument on the House floor between Democrats and Republicans over Trump’s conduct with Ukraine, lawmakers voted almost entirely along party lines to impeach him. Trump becomes the third president in U.S. history to face trial in the Senate — a proceeding that will determine whether he is removed from office less than one year before he stands for reelection.

On Trump’s 1,062nd day in office, Congress brought a momentous reckoning to an un­or­tho­dox president who has tested America’s institutions with an array of unrestrained actions, including some that a collection of his own appointees and other government witnesses testified were reckless and endangered national security.

The Democratic-controlled House passed two articles of impeachment against Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — related to the president’s attempts to withhold military aid to Ukraine and pressure its government to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a potential 2020 Democratic opponent.

The House voted 230 to 197 to approve the article charging abuse of power, with the gavel falling about 8:30 p.m. On the obstruction of Congress vote, which followed soon after, the tally was 229 to 198.

All Republicans voted against both articles. Among Democrats, two voted no on the first article and three on the second, with one — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) — voting “present” both times.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) framed the day’s proceedings through the long lens of history, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singling out the line “the republic for which it stands.”

“Very sadly, now our founders’ vision of a republic is under threat from actions from the White House,” Pelosi said. She added, “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty.”

(…)

The House voted 230 to 197 to approve the article charging abuse of power, with the gavel falling about 8:30 p.m. On the obstruction of Congress vote, which followed soon after, the tally was 229 to 198.

All Republicans voted against both articles. Among Democrats, two voted no on the first article and three on the second, with one — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) — voting “present” both times.

The House voted 230 to 197 to approve the article charging abuse of power, with the gavel falling about 8:30 p.m. On the obstruction of Congress vote, which followed soon after, the tally was 229 to 198.
All Republicans voted against both articles. Among Democrats, two voted no on the first article and three on the second, with one — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) — voting “present” both times.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) framed the day’s proceedings through the long lens of history, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singling out the line “the republic for which it stands.”

“Very sadly, now our founders’ vision of a republic is under threat from actions from the White House,” Pelosi said. She added, “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty.”

(…)

Wednesday’s action punctuated a quarter-century of increasingly poisonous partisanship in Washington, one that arguably began during Bill Clinton’s presidency, was extended with rebellions against presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and is culminating in the Trump era.

The intensity and polarization of the debate on the House floor vividly illustrated the extent to which leaders of the two parties now believe entirely different accounts of what occurred and are motivated by different concerns. At times they sounded almost as if they were representing different countries.

Democrats characterized Trump as an immediate threat to the nation he was elected to lead, casting his actions as an unprecedented affront to American values. Republicans denounced those charges as unsubstantiated and the process as illegitimate, repeatedly accusing the Democrats of seeking to illegally overturn the results of the last election.

(…)

Democrats and Republicans took turns at the rostrum delivering short, impassioned speeches — a furious debate that in many ways showcased how much Trump has remade the two parties.

The Republicans, mostly white men, stood staunchly behind the president and repeated many of his statements vilifying the opposition. The Democrats, notably more diverse in race and gender, uniformly attacked the president’s conduct as an affront to American values.

“When we say we uphold the Constitution, we are not talking about a piece of parchment,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “We’re talking about a beautiful architecture in which ambition is set against ambition, in which no branch of government can dominate another.”

(…)

He added, “That is what it means to uphold the Constitution. If you ignore it, if you say the president may refuse to comply, may refuse lawful process, may coerce an ally, may cheat in an election because he’s the president of our party, you do not uphold our Constitution.”

Republicans responded that Democratic leaders had concocted a scheme to oust the president because they were afraid they could not beat him in next November’s election.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, “Democrats have wanted to impeach President Trump since the day he was elected — and nothing was going to get in their way, certainly not the truth.”

Though some Republican lawmakers defended Trump on the substance of the allegations, many spent most of their time airing grievances about the process. They often echoed the rambling, six-page letter Trump issued to Pelosi on Tuesday, and they repeated the president’s claims of personal persecution in sometimes overheated terms.

“When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers,” said Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.).

“During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats have afforded this president in this process.”

Other GOP House members described impeachment as the outgrowth of insidious forces.

“I have descended into the belly of the beast. I have witnessed a terror within,” said Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.)

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), meanwhile, drew a parallel to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. After quoting President Franklin D. Roosevelt calling Dec. 7 “a date that will live in infamy,” Kelly said, “Today, December the 18th, 2019, is another date that will live in infamy.”

As noted, yesterday’s debate went about as you would have expected, with Democrats earnestly setting forth the case in favor of the President’s impeachment based on the facts uncovered during the course of the investigation that began in September when we first became aware of the whistleblower’s complaint about a July 25th phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. As we later learned when the written summary became public shortly thereafter, the President used that phone call to attempt to extract promises from the new Ukrainian leader to investigate former Vice-President Joe Biden and his son Hunter as well as a the largely discredited claim that it was the Ukrainians who interfered in the 2016 election in an effort to harm the President’s campaign.

What followed was a relatively quick process that began with closed-door depositions of top former and current members of the Trump Administration, most of them from either the National Security Council or the State Department. Several of those people were present for that July 25th phone call as well as other conversations with the President and other top officials about the Ukraine matter. Those conversations made clear that the Administration intended to withhold more than $300 million in military aid that Congress had authorized earlier in the year unless President Zelensky took the actions that President Trump wanted. It was also clear that the Ukrainians were aware that the pressure for investigations was linked both to the release of military aid and to improvements in the relationship between Washington and Kyiv such as a much-coveted invitation to visit Washington.

Later, as the investigation unfolded, the Trump White House would do everything it could to block Congress from undertaking its Constitutional obligation and duty to investigate and oversee the Executive Branch. In a manner that even the Nixon Administration didn’t attempt, the Trump Administration has attempted to block Congress from current and former Administration officials as well as perfectly legitimate document requests. Each time these requests have been challenged in Court, they have been blocked at the District Court and Court of Appeals level. While those matters are now pending before the Supreme Court, the resolution of those matters likely won’t come before June, right before the party conventions and the beginning of the Presidential General Election season.

From here, of course, attention will turn to the Senate, which will sit in trial of a sitting President for the third time in American history. This time, though, it’s clear that the entire process is a sham, with Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as Senators Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul, making clear that they have no intention of being impartial. In any case, though, even with an acquittal Donald Trump will go down in history as an impeached President. He may try to wear that as a badge of honor of some kind, but it is not. Impeachment will be the first thing mentioned in his obituary when he dies, and the first thing written about him in history books when the time comes. As much as Trump likes to pretend otherwise, it’s clear that this irks him and it will follow him for the rest of his life.

Update: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is reportedly considering a delay in sending the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate in an effort to influence the procedures governing the Senate trial.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Impeachment, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    He finally got more votes than Clinton!

    There were 228 votes in the House to impeach Bill Clinton. There were 230 votes in the House to impeach Trump marking the first time ever that Trump got more votes than a Clinton!

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  2. Teve says:

    @DonaldJTrumpjr

    Dear Clintons,

    You know what’s deplorable?

    Being Impeached!!!

    #BasketOfDeplorables

    9/10/2016

  3. An Interested Party says:

    This line pretty much sums it up…

    Democrats had the facts and the votes. Republicans had their feelings.

    So very true…

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  4. MarkedMan says:

    Some years ago I would have marveled at the Republican Congress Critters foolishness tying themselves so tightly to Trump who, once acquitted in the Senate, will almost certainlly become even more unhinged. Can’t the RCC’s understand the inevitability of Trump doing something so debased it will drive away even the Republican electorate? Will he overdose during one of his rallys and slur incoherently until they lead him off the stage, stumbling and with urine running down his leg? Will he strike Melania in public? Will he come right out and say that he supports Putin because the Russians have invested so heavily in his personal businesses? Seriously, does anyone think these things are unlikely? And when the Trumper electorate start to mutter and shuffle off rather than be further associated with him, does anyone think those voters will continue to support the lickspittle RCC’s? Obviously these Republicans care nothing for the country or their oath and therefore will vote along with their party leader, Donald J Trump. But why are they putting themselves out there so vocally? Why are they tying themselves so visibly to him?

    But these things don’t surprise me any more. The Republican Party and their leaders have become the party of the simplistic, of the reactive, of the “act for the moment” mentality. Those who can process cause and effect, who can look to the future and make long term decisions, have long ago left the party of “climate change is a hoax”, of “tax cuts bring in more revenue”, of “old white men equal victory, forever”. However clever or wily the RCC’s are, they are at their core impulsive creatures, who act on their most immediate and animal urges. So some Confederate Flag waving yahoo grabs their arm and tells them how much he loves his personal Jesus, Donald J. Trump, and the RCC cannot help themself but jump up and shout that they are the most loyal Trump bootlicker that has ever existed.

  5. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Can’t the RCC’s understand the inevitability of Trump doing something so debased it will drive away even the Republican electorate?

    Dude, if what’s already happened over the past three years wasn’t debased enough, there isn’t anything else. They are with him 110% until the bitter, ugly end.

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  6. Andrew says:

    There is news of Trump being extremely pissed he got impeached and was not the first president to have been so.
    Trump and Barr are having meetings in the Oval Office on how to change Trump to #1 and the FIRST President impeached.

    Trump is after all #3. Not worthy of the goooooooold metal.

  7. Kit says:

    @MarkedMan:

    And when the Trumper electorate start to mutter and shuffle off rather than be further associated with him, does anyone think those voters will continue to support the lickspittle RCC’s?

    Sure, I think they will. All the voters need is to be told that Trump was an honest man driven mad by perfidious Democrats. Make that mean and nasty Democrats. Trump died for his supporters sins.

    The Republican Party and their leaders have become the party of the simplistic, of the reactive, of the “act for the moment” mentality. Those who can process cause and effect, who can look to the future and make long term decisions, have long ago left the party of “climate change is a hoax”, of “tax cuts bring in more revenue”, of “old white men equal victory, forever”.

    While mostly true, this is too simplistic. The rich got their tax cuts, right? Most Republicans believe climate change is a hoax, right, and so oppose any action on the matter. Cui bono? If there’s one thing I admire about the éminences grises in the Republican Party it’s their ability to plan far into the future.

  8. Teve says:

    Can’t the RCC’s understand the inevitability of Trump doing something so debased it will drive away even the Republican electorate?

    Trump mocked a disabled guy on live tv. And then they voted for him.

    These are not smart people, with good values.

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  9. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    My guess is Dennison will try to suspend the 2020 presidential election. As recently as six months ago, I’d have thought there would be no way the GOP would go along with that. Today, I think the opposite.

    Of course, there’s no legal means to do so. But if states choose not to hold elections on some insane, idiotic Trump pretext, what are you going to do about it? States can award electoral votes as they please, the law, if any, be damned. He may try to suspend elections for he House and Senate, too. Giving him the rubber stamp he wants.

    Naturally blue states, and perhaps some purple and red ones, will refuse to go along. these will be tarred as unpatriotic states insisting in carrying out unconstitutional elections as mandated by law.

    I fear the Trump iceberg hides the most, and worst, of its insanity below the surface.

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  10. Kit says:

    @Kathy:

    Of course, there’s no legal means to [suspend the 2020 presidential election].

    How about claiming that D’s have a plot to tamper with the election results? Trump declares a Federal emergency. You see how seriously he takes the issue! And, of course, he asks the Supreme Court to adjudicate. He’ll claim executive privilege justifies his actions. Everyone says so. And if he can place one more ass on the highest bench, I guess the people who count will say so, too.

    To be honest, I have a hard time imagining this before an election. And after…

  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Finally Trump is best at something, other than losing money running casinos.
    He is the best at getting impeached in his first term as President.

  12. JKB says:

    Donald Trump will go down in history as an impeached President.

    That sounds terrible…if you don’t have the ability to read with critical thinking. So it is terrible around the Beltway.

    But let’s decipher this. Democrats in the House of Representatives have passed “written accusations” against President Donald Trump. The only thing unique is that Democrats in the House were willing to go on record and thus cannot weasel out of the accusations next November.

    Of course, being impeached is clear and present evidence that President Trump is making inroads against the Swamp and they are not happy.

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  13. drj says:

    @JKB:

    Of course, having been impeached was clear and present evidence that Bill Clinton was making inroads against the Swamp and they are not happy.

    God damn, I knew it!

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  14. drj says:

    @JKB:

    You agree with this logic, of course?

  15. gVOR08 says:

    @Kit:

    Most Republicans believe climate change is a hoax, right, and so oppose any action on the matter.

    I don’t think that’s quite right, and it’s more venal. Republican voters have been taught to think climate change is a hoax. Republican politicians know only that they are dependent on Koch Bros et al money and Koch wants nothing done on climate change.

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  16. Deathcar2000 says:

    Makes perfect sense, the “vast right wing conspiracy” has rebranded itself “deep state”. I’m glad that JKB has ferreted out this info. We might have given him far less credit than he deserves.

  17. Kit says:

    @gVOR08:
    I think we agree on this issue. People like the Koch brothers are pulling the strings, and, indirectly, telling voters how to think.

  18. Zachriel says:

    Interesting how the different media sources headline the impeachment, at 9:30 AM:

    CNN: TRUMP IMPEACHED
    NY Times (print): TRUMP IMPEACHED
    Washington Post: TRUMP IMPEACHED

    FoxNews: FIGHTER SQUADRON, Omar shouts ‘stop it!’ as McCarthy recounts Tlaib’s profane impeachment comment

  19. Kurtz says:

    @JKB:

    You chose to vote for a man who is basically a wrestling heel. You continue to support him. As bad as it is to have been fooled by an idiot, what is worse is that you still seem to have no clue what makes this person tick. Yet, he is the easiest type of person to understand, because he is utterly transparent in his superficiality, self regard and attention seeking. Sad.

  20. sam says:

    “The only thing unique is that Democrats in the House were willing to go on record and thus cannot weasel out of the accusations next November. ”

    You’re assuming that Trump won’t do anything in the months ahead that will make even his brain-dead supporters retch. I wouldn’t make book on that.

  21. Moosebreath says:

    Meanwhile, we have the ultimate Chris Cilizza column, showing that he is the leading analyst in the so-called liberal media by refusing to do any actual analysis:

    “It felt like watching two different movies at the same time. There was lots of talking, lots of accusations and no listening. And most of it just seemed like noise, noise, NOISE.

    The only thing the two sides ever seemed to agree on was that this was a big day in Washington (and the world) — and that there would be long-lasting consequences from how each of them voted. Republicans repeatedly warned Democrats they could kiss their House majority goodbye in the 2020 election. Democrats told Republicans that history would judge them very poorly for their support of a corrupt President.”

  22. MarkedMan says:

    @Mikey:

    Dude, if what’s already happened over the past three years wasn’t debased enough, there isn’t anything else.

    You make a good point, but based on Trump’s decades long history, I think it very likely that eventually he will drive off even his most ardent supporters. It’s simply what he does. And has done at every single point in his life.

  23. 95 South says:

    @SKI: Electoral College

  24. Teve says:

    You’re assuming that Trump won’t do anything in the months ahead that will make even his brain-dead supporters retch. I wouldn’t make book on that.

    What could he possibly do? Throw Lee Greenwood into a Troy-Bilt chipper/shredder? Call Jesus a “faggit”? I’m at a loss.

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  25. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    Even you don’t believe what you’re saying. You KNOW Trump is guilty. If you thought he was innocent you’d be demanding Trump bring his witnesses forward. But you never, ever, ever say anything that suggests you believe he’s actually innocent.

    You have no intellectual integrity whatsoever. You could be easily replaced by a parrot.

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  26. just nutha says:

    Trump and Barr are having meetings in the Oval Office on how to change Trump to #1 and the FIRST President impeached.

    They might try going with he’s Number 1 because he’s the first President actually impeached over issues that actually count as “high crimes,” but they might not want to go there. 😛 😀

    ETA:

    …President Trump is making inroads against the Swamp…

    Yo mama, you say????

  27. An Interested Party says:

    That sounds terrible…if you don’t have the ability to read with critical thinking.

    Ha! A Trump supporter talking about critical thinking…oh, that’s very rich…

  28. DrDaveT says:

    @Andrew:

    Trump and Barr are having meetings in the Oval Office on how to change Trump to #1 and the FIRST President impeached.

    Neil Simon said it best, in Murder by Death:

    SAM DIAMOND: “You may think you’re #1, but you look like #2 to me.”