WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted to impeach President Donald Trump Wednesday night, making him the third president to be impeached in U.S. history.
Trump was impeached on largely party line votes on charges that he abused power and obstructed Congress. The charges surround allegations that Trump improperly pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival in an effort to interfere with the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
No House Republicans voted to adopt either impeachment article. Two House Democrats voted against both articles of impeachment — Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey. Van Drew was reportedly planning to switch parties to become a Republican. Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) voted yes on the first article but against the obstruction of Congress article. Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voted “present” on both articles.
Colorado’s longtime Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette served as speaker pro tempore and presided over the day’s debate. “This is a sad and somber moment in our nation’s history and the responsibility to preside is something I won’t take lightly,” she said in a tweet. All four Colorado Democrats — Reps. DeGette, Ed Perlmutter, Jason Crow and Joe Neguse — voted in support of both impeachment articles. All three Colorado Republican representatives — Doug Lamborn, Ken Buck and Scott Tipton — voted against both articles. (Here is the rollcall vote for Article One, abuse of power, and Article Two, obstruction of Congress.)
“Our founders created a system to ensure we would have no kings or dictators, a system that vested power in the people to ensure that no man or woman is above the law,” Crow said. “Generation after generation of this system has survived because people have fought for it. Today it is our turn. The president’s abuse of power and scorn for our constitutional checks and balances is unprecedented. Unless we stand up against these abuses, we will set the country on a dangerous new course.”
“In reality, this is nothing but a partisan ploy by Democrats to overturn an election,” Lamborn said. “But this charade will fail and the Senate will exonerate Trump and everyone knows it.”
The vote came after a lengthy and heated debate on the House floor, as Democrats warned that Trump had trampled on the U.S. Constitution, while his GOP defenders accused the House majority of manufacturing a case for impeachment due to their disdain for Trump’s policies.
“The founders’ great fear of a rogue or corrupt president is the very reason why they enshrined impeachment in the Constitution,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on the House floor ahead of the vote. “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice.”
Only two other presidents had previously been impeached by the House: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both of those presidents were acquitted by the Senate.
Trump also appears to be headed for certain acquittal in the GOP-led Senate. A trial, in which House Democrats will argue their case before the upper chamber of Congress, is expected to begin next month.
Some senators have been cautious about stating whether they’ll vote to remove Trump from office, arguing that they’ll be jurors in the trial and don’t want to prejudge the outcome. But not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
McConnell told reporters Tuesday that he is “not at all impartial” on impeachment and that it is a “political process.”
As lawmakers prepared to vote on Wednesday, Trump wrote on Twitter: “SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!”
Trump held a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Mich., on Wednesday night. “By the way, it doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached, the country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong and we have tremendous support in the Republican Party like never before,” he said, according to The Washington Post.
Democrats, including some in districts won by Trump in 2016, streamed onto the House floor during the day-long debate on Wednesday to make their case for impeachment.
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) said she was choosing what is right and “not what is politically expedient.” She said she had the “resolve to stand with the president at the White House last week and resolve to stand up to the president in this House today. I ask my colleagues to have the same strength and the same resolve.”
Luria is among 31 Democrats in districts that Trump carried in 2016.
Other Democrats delivered sharper rebukes of the president, arguing that failing to impeach Trump would set a precedent that other presidents could invite foreign interference in U.S. elections.
“I know the president said that he can get away with anything he wants to. I come today to tell you that no, he cannot, because no one is above the law and he shall be held accountable,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), who was involved in the House investigation of the Ukraine scandal.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that in his nearly 40 years in the House under six presidential administrations, he never expected to “encounter such an obvious wrongdoing by a president of the United States. Nor did I expect to witness such a craven rationalization of presidential actions which have put our national security at risk, undermined the integrity of our elections and defied the constitutional authority of the Congress to conduct oversight.”
Republicans, meanwhile, spent the debate accusing their Democratic colleagues of pursuing a political vendetta against the president, pointing frequently to statements Democrats had made supporting impeachment before the Ukraine investigation was launched.
“Why do we keep calling this a solemn occasion, when you’ve been wanting to do this ever since [Trump] was elected?” said Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
“The president has been driving these guys crazy because he’s getting things done,” said Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee. “When you drain the swamp, the swamp fights back. They started attacking the president before the election even.”
“This process echoes calls by some that refuse to accept 2016 election results,” said Colorado Republican Tipton. “None of the articles receiving a vote justify the removal of the president from office.”
Democrats vehemently denied GOP attacks that they were pursuing impeachment because they hate Trump’s policies or dislike him personally.
“I don’t hate the president, but I love my country and I have no other choice,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.). “Voting for these articles of impeach is the only moral course of action, the only way to honor our oath of office. I have no doubt that the votes I cast today will stand the test of time.”
Neguse repeated his earlier statements that Trump had left Congress with no choice.
“The fact of the matter is that the president abused the power of his office and invited a foreign country to interfere in our elections,” Neguse said. “In so doing, he undermined the sanctity of the free and fair elections upon which our republic rests. Making matters worse, over the past several months, President Trump and his administration have done everything they can to prevent Congress from uncovering the truth.”
“In the history of our republic, no president has ever obstructed Congress like this before.”
One independent congressman, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, sided with Democrats to vote for both articles of impeachment. Amash, who helped found the conservative House Freedom Caucus, left the GOP earlier this year after calling for Trump’s impeachment.
Trump’s “actions reflect precisely the type of conduct the framers of the Constitution intended to remedy through the power of impeachment, and it is our duty to impeach him,” Amash said Wednesday on the House floor.
With the votes tallied and recorded, DeGette banged the gavel and the House adjourned.