House Approves Articles of Impeachment Against Trump

December 18, 2019 Updated: December 19, 2019
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The House of Representatives voted to approve both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, arising out of a July conversation he had with Ukraine’s president.

Both impeachment articles were approved by a mostly party-line vote. The abuse of power vote was approved 230-197-1. Obstruction of Congress was passed 229-198-1.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) then sounded the gavel approved both article of impeachment.

impeachment vote count
The vote tally for both articles of impeachment passed by the House on Dec. 18, 2019. (AP)

Throughout the day, Democrats and Republicans laid out their cases for and against impeachment. On the House floor, Pelosi (D-Calif.) read the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance, then said, “Today we are here to defend democracy for the people.”

“For centuries, Americans have fought and died to defend democracy for the people. But, very sadly now, our founders’ vision of a republic is under threat from actions from the White House,” Pelosi remarked on the floor. “That is why today, as speaker of the House, I solemnly and sadly open the debate on the impeachment of the president of the United States,” Pelosi added. “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty.”

Reports have said that the final votes on the two articles of impeachment will come after 7 p.m. ET, but it’s not exactly clear when.

Following Pelosi, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the House Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, said, “This an impeachment based on presumption. This is basically also a poll-tested impeachment on what actually sells to the American people. Today’s going to be a lot of things. What it is not, is fair. What it is not, is about the truth.”

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said, “The matter before the House today is based solely on a fundamental hatred of our president. It’s a sham, a witch hunt—and it’s tantamount to a coup against the duly elected president of the United States.”

Trump has vociferously denied the allegations against him, writing a blistering letter to Speaker Pelosi and her caucus on Tuesday as the House Rules Committee voted to send the two articles of impeachment—obstruction of Congress and abuse of power—to the full House floor.

This week, a number of Democrats from districts that Trump carried in 2016 have signaled they would vote in favor of the articles of impeachment, essentially giving House Democrats the 218-vote threshold they need to pass articles of impeachment. The House requires a simple majority vote, but when the two articles reach the Senate, they need a 67-vote minimum.

The Senate has not yet set its procedures for a trial on the charges, which would be overseen by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts. With the high bar set for the numerous votes, at least 20 Republicans would have to vote to convict the president in the Senate. Congressional officials on both sides of the political spectrum have noted that it’s extremely unlikely for Trump to get removed from office. No president in history has ever been convicted by the Senate.

Democrats said Trump withheld millions of dollars in foreign aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden, who had sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas firm, Burisma Holdings, that had been accused of corruption. While the Bidens have denied allegations of corruption, Republicans pointed to a video where the former vice president bragged about getting Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, fired from his job as he was investigating the company. Obama administration officials said it was Shokin who was corrupt.

Ahead of the vote, Trump wrote on Twitter that “they want to Impeach me (I’m not worried!), and yet they were all breaking the law in so many ways. How can they do that and yet impeach a very successful (Economy Plus) President of the United States, who has done nothing wrong? These people are Crazy!”

In his letter, Trump excoriated Pelosi’s caucus and expressed “my strongest and most powerful protest against the partisan impeachment crusade.”

“Any member of Congress who votes in support of impeachment—against every shred of truth, fact, evidence, and legal principle—is showing how deeply they revile the voters and how they truly detest America’s Constitutional order,” he wrote.

Pelosi claimed that impeachment is now necessary before the 2020 election because Trump would be emboldened to act in an allegedly autocratic manner in the future.

“If we allow one president—any president, no matter who she or he may be—to go down this path, we are saying goodbye to the republic and hello to a president-king,” Pelosi told Politico. She added: “We take an oath to protect and defend; if we did not do that, we would be delinquent in our duty. So, this isn’t about elections; it’s about the Constitution.”

Trump, in his letter, argued that Democrats are engaging in abuse of the Constitution.

“This impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat Lawmakers, unequaled in nearly two and a half centuries of American legislative history,” the president wrote.

“The articles of impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee are not recognizable under any standard of Constitutional theory, interpretation, or jurisprudence,” he added. “They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever. You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!”