Donald Trump Is Officially Impeached
On Wednesday (December 18), the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The first charge came in at a 230-197 vote, officially making Trump just the third U.S. president to ever be formally impeached, joining the ranks of former Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Richard Nixon also faced impeachment, but he resigned before the House voted.
The vote on abuse of power was split almost exactly along party lines. Two Democrats, Collin Peterson (MN) and Jeff Van Drew (NJ) voted no, bucking a nearly unanimous vote from their party. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) indicated she was present, but did not cast a vote. And alone among the Republicans and independents was Justin Amash (I-MI), who voted to impeach the President. Three other representatives were not present for the vote.
Congress voted that Trump obstructed Congress 229-198, almost exactly mirroring the prior vote. Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) joined Peterson and Van Drew in voting 'No,' while Gabbard once again marked herself 'Present' and Amash joined the Democrat bloc.
"This impeachment is permanent," Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) said in the debates prior to the official vote, the New York Times reported. "It will follow [Trump] around for the rest of his life and history books will record it. And the people will know why we impeached. It’s all very simple. No one is above the law."
After the vote, House majority leader Nancy Pelosi called the vote a "great day for the constitution" but a "sad day for America," per CNN. "I view this day, this vote, as something that we did to honor the vision of our founders to establish a republic, the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform to defend our democracy and the republic, and the aspirations of our children that they will always live in a democracy, and we have tried to do everything we can to make sure that that is their reality," she said.
Trump was at a rally in Michigan when the vote cementing his impeachment came in; per NBC News reporter Shannon Pettypiece, he was boasting about the U.S. Air Force.
Later during his speech, he challenged Pelosi specifically, claiming that "Americans will show up by the tens of millions next year to vote Pelosi the hell out of office." Pelosi represents California's 12th congressional district, which exists entirely within the city limits of San Francisco, a city of under a million residents.
But because Trump has been impeached doesn't mean he'll be removed from office just yet. Impeachment is simply the House voting to officially charge the president with misconduct — in this case, he was charged with abuse of power and obstructing congress. Now the impeachment inquiry heads to the Senate when they return from holiday break.
The Senate has a few options. They can hold a trial before voting whether to remove the president from office, or acquit him, thereby dismissing the charges; they can also force a vote without hearing a trial at all. Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell has said he supports a trial, albeit a short one, while Trump has allegedly been pushing for a longer process that would allow him to create an aggressive defense against the vote, according to CNN. Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Chuck Schumer, presented a letter to McConnell on December 15 asking for a lengthier trial with the ability to call more witnesses that the White House has previously prevented from testifying, and obtaining more documents that have yet to be released, the New York Times reported.
"Senate Democrats believe strongly, and I trust Senate Republicans agree, that this trial must be one that is fair, that considers all of the relevant facts, and that exercises the Senate’s ‘sole power of impeachment’ under the Constitution with integrity and dignity," Schumer wrote in his letter, adding: "The trial must be one that not only hears all of the evidence and adjudicates the case fairly; it must also pass the fairness test with the American people. That is the great challenge for the Senate in the coming weeks."
No matter how the trial is handled, two-thirds — or 67 of 100 senators — will have to vote in favor of convicting the president for him to be removed from office. Since Republicans have a lead in the Senate, all of the Democrats and Independent Senators will have to be joined by 20 Republicans to vote for impeachment for Trump to be convicted — a long shot to say the least. If fewer than two-thirds of the members present vote to convict him, he'll stay in office, just like former President Clinton, who was acquitted.
For now, though, there isn't much to do besides enjoying your holiday and waiting for Senate to return to session.