President Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives in a near party-line vote on Wednesday. He is still the President.
What comes next is a trial in the Senate early next year that could, but probably won’t, cost him the White House.
The House exercised its constitutional right to charge Trump with high crimes and misdemeanors through votes. It is on two articles of impeachment that will be familiar, at this point, to most Americans. Now headed for the history books:Abuse of power for his effort to withhold taxpayer money from Ukraine. It is to get that country to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden;
Obstruction of Congress for his refusal to cooperate with the oversight investigation.
Here is what House members said during the debate:
Ms. Pelosi opened the debate, saying:
“For centuries Americans have fought and died to defend democracy for the people, but very sadly now our founder’s vision of a republic is under threat from actions from the White House. 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.”
Democratic Representative Joe Kennedy, the grand-nephew of President John F Kennedy, used his speech to address his children directly, explaining his decision to vote for impeachment.
“Dear Ellie and James: This is a moment that you’ll read about in your history books,” the Massachusetts congressman said, going on to accuse the president of “using his power as a weapon against his own people”.
Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, accused Democrats of conducting an unfair and illegitimate inquiry.
“This is an impeachment based on presumption. This is a poll-tested impeachment about what actually sells to the American people,” Mr. Collins said.
Republican Barry Loudermilk compared the impeachment process to the fate of Jesus Christ. “During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than Democrats have afforded this president in this process,” he said.
This is what Trump’s response:
As the vote was conducted, Trump was at a “Merry Christmas” campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, which is the district represented by Rep. Justin Amash, the former Republican-turned-independent who voted to impeach him. Trump delayed his appearance to watch the vote.
“After three years of sinister witch hunts, hoaxes, scams, the House Democrats are trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans,” he said.
Now the President has invited foreign powers to interfere in the US presidential election. Democrats have impeached him for it. Next up is a trial in the Senate to decide whether to remove him from office. It is a crossroads for the American system of government as the President tries to change what’s acceptable for US politicians. This newsletter will focus on this consequential moment in US history.