NEW YORK, Dec 19 (TNS):The U.S. House of Representatives, in which Democrats have majority, impeached President Trump in momentous votes in Washington on Wednesday night, making him the third president since America’s founding to face a trial in the Senate, now controlled by Republicans, exposing the deep partisan divisions in Congress and across the country.
Nearly all Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, supported the two charges — abuse-of-power and obstruction of Congress — against Trump in the wake of his pressing Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.
The House Republicans rejected both charges, saying Democrats failed to show that Trump had committed a crime and that they had managed a flawed process.
The House voted largely along party lines, passing two articles of impeachment.
The votes followed a day of debate over Trump on the House floor, with an obviously angry President tweeting and retweeting dozens of messages defending himself starting in the early morning, and commented on the vote in the evening as he addressed supporters at a rally in Battle Cree in the U.S. State of Michigan.
“They are the ones that should be impeached,”Trump said of Democrats, moments after the second article of impeachment was approved. “House Democrats are trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans,” he said.
But in his mostly unscripted remarks, Trump claimed he was enjoying himself.
“They said there’s no crime,” he said. “There’s no crime. I’m the first person to ever get impeached and there’s no crime. I feel guilty. It’s impeachment lite.”
He paused before adding, “I don’t know about you, but I’m having a good time.”
Wednesday night’s first vote on the first article was 230 in favour and 197 against, almost entirely along party lines, with one lawmaker, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat, voting ‘present’. The tally on the second article was 229 to 198, with Ms. Gabbard again voting ‘present’.
Two Democrats crossed party lines on both votes: Congressman Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota. Another Democrat, Congressman Jared Golden of Maine, backed the first article but opposed the second. All three lawmakers represent constituencies carried by Trump in the 2016 election.
The matter moves next to the Senate for a trial, where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove Trump from office. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has said he sees no scenarios in which Trump would be convicted.
Acquittal in the Republican-controlled Senate may be likely, but the proceeding is certain to further aggravate the political and cultural fault lines in the U.S. Regardless of the outcome, the impeachment votes in the House put an indelible stain on Trump’s presidency that cannot be wiped from the public consciousness.