Riyaz Patel

Donald Trump has become the third US president in history to be impeached by the House of Representatives, setting up a trial in the Senate that will decide whether he remains in office.

The House voted on two charges – that the president abused his power and that he had obstructed Congress.

Nearly all Democrats voted for the charges and every Republican against.

President Trump’s Republicans control the Senate so it is highly unlikely he will be removed from power.

As voting took place in the House, Mr Trump was addressing a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan.

“While we’re creating jobs and fighting for Michigan, the radical left in Congress is consumed with envy and hatred and rage, you see what’s going on.”

The first charge is abuse of power, stemming from Trump’s alleged attempt to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into his Democratic political rival, Joe Biden.

It passed by 230 votes to 197, almost completely on party lines.

The second charge is obstruction of Congress, because the president allegedly refused to co-operate with the impeachment inquiry, withholding documentary evidence and barring his key aides from giving evidence.

It passed by 229-198.

No Republicans supported impeachment, although ex-party member Justin Amash, from Michigan, did.

Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard voted “present” on both charges – effectively an abstention.

Being impeached places Donald Trump alongside only two other presidents in the nation’s history – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.

What happens next?

A trial is set to take place in the Senate in the New Year.

The Republican Party has a majority there, making it highly unlikely that the president will be removed from office when senators cast their votes.

Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week said that Republican senators would act in “total co-ordination” with the president’s team during the trial, outraging Democrats who pointed out that Senators are obliged to act as impartial jurors.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, center, speaks as Representative Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, right, and Representative Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, listen during a news conference after the House voted on articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on December 18 2019. Picture: BLOOMBERG/ ANDREW HARRER

After Wednesday’s votes, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated the House might delay sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate – and therefore the start of the trial – to try to bargain on the terms.

“We will make our decision as to when we are going to send it when we see what they are doing on the Senate side,” she said. “So far, we have not seen anything that looks fair to us.”

It is up to McConnell to decide the rules for the trial and which witnesses will testify.

He is due to address the Senate Thursday.


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