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House votes to impeach President Donald Trump

By
Daniel Uria & Danielle Haynes & Darryl Coote
The House of Representatives voted in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump on Wednesday after hours of debate. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI
The House of Representatives voted in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump on Wednesday after hours of debate. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump, the third time the action has been taken against a president in U.S. history.

After some eight hours of debate, the House voted mostly along party lines on the two articles of impeachment charging Trump with having abused the powers of the presidency and having obstructed Congress.

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"Dec. 18, a great day for the Constitution of the United States, a sad one for America that the president's reckless activities necessitated our having to introduce articles of impeachment," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during a press conference after the vote.

She said she couldn't be prouder of the moral courage her Democratic colleagues showed in voting to impeach Trump and uphold the U.S. Constitution.

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"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 that republic and the aspirations of our children that they will always live in a democracy and that we have tried to do everything we can to make sure that that is their reality," she said.

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On Article I charging Trump with abuse of powers and Article II concerning obstruction of Congress, the Democrats voted in a solid block with only two voting against both times.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, voted present to both impeachment articles. In a statement, she said she could not in "good conscience" vote in opposition of the articles as she believes Trump is guilty of wrongdoing and she could not vote for impeachment because "removal of a sitting president must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country."

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Every Republican voted against both articles and as the votes were being announced, Trump read out the results to supporters at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Mich., where he was simultaneously holding a rally and he pointed to the count as evidence the Republican Party was strong and that the Republican-controlled Senate "will do the right thing" and not convict him.

"With today's illegal unconstitutional and partisan impeachment, the do-nothing Democrats are declaring their deep hatred and disdain for the American voter," he said. "This lawless partisan impeachment is a political suicide march for the Democrats."

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Immediately after the vote, the White House derided the day as "one of the most shameful political episodes in the history of our Nation."

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"Without receiving a single Republican vote, and without providing any proof of wrongdoing, Democrats pushed illegitimate articles of impeachment against the president through the House of Representatives," Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. "Democrats have chosen to proceed on this partisan basis in spite of the fact that the president did nothing wrong."

Pelosi described Trump as "an ongoing threat to our national security" earlier Wednesday as she opened up the debate on two articles of impeachment against the leader.

She said the founding fathers' vision for the United States was "under threat" by White House actions.

"It is a matter of fact that the president is an ongoing threat to our national security and the integrity of our elections, the basis of our democracy," Pelosi said.

"If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty."

She was the first to speak Wednesday morning as the House began debating the articles of impeachment.

The House rules committee set the agenda on Tuesday, allowing six hours of debate with no amendments as lawmakers weighed charges that say Trump is a threat to national security because he lobbied a foreign government to interfere in the U.S. electoral process, and then tried to hinder Congress in its subsequent investigation.

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The House vote sends both articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial. However, Pelosi did not say when the articles would be sent, telling reporters "we'll see what happens over there" in the Senate.

She said the Democrats will make their decision on when to send them to the Senate once the Senate decides on what the debate will look like, stating "so far, we haven't seen anything that looks fair."

When questioned about indefinitely withholding the articles, she declined to comment.

"We're not having that discussion," she said. "We have done what we have set out to do. The House has acted on a very sad day to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

She said it's up to the Senate to see what the rules are.

Trump should be tried, but the question of whether Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell will allow for a fair trial remains, House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff said during the press conference.

On Monday, the Democrats sent a letter to McConnell detailing parameters they want for the Senate trial, including to hear from witnesses such as former national security advisor John Bolton.

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Schiff said the House has done its job to uphold the constitution and now it was up to the Senate.

"The question now is will the Senate uphold its duty, will the senators uphold their oath, do the senators want to hear from the witnesses, do they want a real trial? We have to hope that they do," he said.

McConnell said via Twitter that he would discuss the vote on the Senate Thursday morning.

Wednesday's debate time was equally divided between the House's Democratic majority and Republican minority, overseen by House judiciary committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler and ranking Republican Rep. Doug Collins.

Collins used his time to argue that Trump committed no crimes.

"There's no bribery, no extortion, no wire fraud, no obstruction of justice anywhere in these articles," he said. "This is the first time in history a president will be impeached without a single allegation of criminality."

Collins said abuse of power is a "subjective concept that means whatever any member of Congress wants it to mean."

The House also may consider a resolution to appoint and authorize impeachment managers for a Senate trial.

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Both articles stem from Trump's dealings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last summer, during which Trump pressed for investigations of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company for five years.

The crux of the Democrats' argument is that Trump demanded Zelensky publicly investigate the Bidens in a bid to discredit the former vice president and ruin his 2020 campaign -- and that Trump threatened to block hundreds of millions of dollars in Congress-approved aid for Ukraine and deny a White House visit for Zelensky until he got what he wanted.

On Tuesday, Trump sent a six-page letter to Pelosi that accused the Democrats of "declaring open war on American democracy" and attempting to mount a coup.

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