United States President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday night formally charging him for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
After a strenuous and heated floor debate, the votes were split along party lines as the first article of impeachment was passed by 230 of the chamber’s 233 Democrats and rejected by all the 197 House Republicans. While the second article got 230 yeas and 198 nays; thus making Trump the third head of state to be impeached in the country’s history.
However, this in itself does not remove the president immediately from office; as it is similar to an indictment thus it is essentially the statement of charges against the chief executive.
The impeachment now sets the stage for a trial in the Senate, controlled by Republicans, on whether to convict or acquit him. The trial is expected to begin in January in the Senate, where a vote of two-thirds is necessary for conviction.
No president has ever been removed from office via the impeachment process set out in the Constitution, and Republican senators have given little indication of changing that.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday ignored a Democratic request to call four current and former White House officials as witnesses in the expected trial next month, sending another clear signal that he expects senators not to remove Trump from office.
McConnell has previously said there is “no chance” the Senate will convict and remove Trump and that he would work in “total coordination” with the White House and Trump’s defense team.
The impeachment proceedings began on Sept. 24 as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal inquiry, resulting from a whistleblower’s allegations that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden.
The whistleblower from within the U.S. intelligence community ledged a complaint with an internal watchdog about Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, resulting in the Ukraine scandal.
The July 25 call, which was later released by the White House, confirmed that the U.S. president asked Zelenskiy to investigate his political rival in coordination with the U.S. attorney general and Trump’s personal lawyer, which in turn occurred after Trump had ordered a freeze of nearly US$400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine, which the administration only later released.
Federal election law prohibits candidates from accepting foreign help in an election.