The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday evening, largely along party lines, to impeach Donald Trump.
There will now be a trial in the Senate on the two articles of impeachment, one accusing Trump of abuse of power and the other of obstruction of Congress. He will be only the third president to be tried, after Andrew Johnson in the 1860s and Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Neither was removed from office; a vote of two-thirds of senators is necessary for that, a fact that makes Trump’s removal unlikely. Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.
The vote to adopt the articles of impeachment came after a day of debate that saw Democratic representatives say Trump’s conduct regarding Ukraine — tying aid to a “favor” that involved investigation of the son of his likely 2020 challenger, Joe Biden — clearly met the standard for impeachment and Republicans saying that the Democrats were conducting a partisan witch hunt or worse. Some GOPers even likened the process to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
“When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers,” said Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia. “During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than Democrats have afforded this president in this process.” Actually, Trump will be able to “face his accusers” when the matter goes to trial in the Senate.
Another Republican representative, Fred Keller of Pennsylvania, went so far as to quote Jesus’ words on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” His fellow Pennsylvanian GOPer Mike Kelly said the day is one that will “live in infamy,” like the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, and Republican Clay Higgins of Louisiana called the process an “unjust and weaponized impeachment, brought upon us by the same socialists who threaten unborn life in the womb, who threaten First Amendment rights of conservatives.”
Democrats tended to invoke the threat to democracy posed by Trump’s conduct, among them out representatives David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Sean Patrick Maloney of New York.
“The president betrayed our national security and undermined the security of our elections when he put his own personal, political interests ahead of the interests of our country,” Cicilline said. “He tried to cheat to win reelection. This wasn’t an attack on Vice President Biden. It was an attack on our democracy. And if we do not hold him accountable today, we will no longer live in a democracy. We will live in a dictatorship where any future president will be free to abuse their office in order to get reelected.”
“Today’s vote is about right and wrong and whether we still know the difference,” Maloney said. “Today, we hold the president accountable. If we fail to do so, future presidents will see corruption without consequence — and there, our democracy goes to die.”
Notably, among Democrats, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is seeking the party’s presidential nomination, voted “present” on both articles. Two other Democrats, Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, voted against both articles. Jared Golden of Maine voted for the abuse of power article but against the obstruction of Congress charge. All other Democrats who cast votes today supported both articles, with all Republicans in attendance opposing them. Two Republicans and one Democrat were absent.
This story is developing and will be updated. Watch Cicilline’s and Maloney’s remarks below.