WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming only the third American chief executive to be formally charged under the Constitution’s ultimate remedy for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Minnesota Congressman Jim Hagedorn submitted this statement into the record when he voted against impeachment:
"Many members of this body have publicly voiced support for impeachment since before this President was sworn into office – some even skipping the Inauguration, a time-honored American tradition, because they viewed him as an illegitimate President.”
"For a significant number of my colleagues, this will not be the first – and possibly not even the last time they vote to impeach President Trump. Several have openly admitted they are concerned if they don’t vote to impeach the President, he will be reelected.”
"Even the highest-ranking member of this body publicly stated that this process has been two and a half years in the making. The Speaker admitted this just months after she told the American people that impeachment would need to be compelling, overwhelming and bipartisan. Yet, the only thing bipartisan about this impeachment is the opposition to it.”
"Here are the facts:
• Both President Trump and President Zelensky say there was no pressure.
• The call transcript shows no conditionality – or 'quid pro quo' – between aid and an investigation.
• The Ukrainians were not aware that aid was withheld when Trump and Zelensky spoke.
• Ukraine did not open an investigation, and still received aid and a meeting with President Trump.
"The sad truth is that this has been an overtly political process from the very beginning, and an unwarranted attempt to remove our duly elected President from office. I will vote 'no' and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote against this divisive impeachment."
Republican Iowa Congressman Steve King also voted against impeachment and made this statement:
“I thank you Madame Speaker and I thank the Gentleman for yielding. I start off first that this is the largest and most massive cover-up of such a list of crimes against our country, and it goes so far as to bring impeachment hearings to try to cover all of this up. And I would take you back to October of 2015 when Barack Obama said, ‘Hillary Clinton would never intend to jeopardize our national security.’ Again, the following April, the next month, Peter Strzok wrote the statement that was delivered by James Comey. And they’ve spent Democrat money and Hillary Clinton money in Russia to pick up dirt on Donald Trump! And, then, Joe Biden goes to Ukraine and makes a statement ‘Here’s a billion dollars, but you must do what I tell you to do!’ You’re accusing Donald Trump of doing that which Joe Biden has confessed to doing!”
“And, by the way, Joe Biden was not the opponent of Donald Trump. He’s in a 21-way primary for Democrats; he’s running third in that race. His [Biden’s] opponents are the other 20 Democrats. How would anybody dig in to that mess of 21 people and decide he’s going to go overseas and pull some maneuver like this? You have to assign him a motive. You assign him a motive, then you create the dots, then you go dot to dot. But the reality is that it was Biden that was doing the extortion of the power play in order to protect his own son, and it was Donald Trump that was following the law that said you have to ensure that there is not corruption here before this money is handed over. “
“And, by the way, there was a violent war going on in Ukraine and that’s when we sent blankets and MRE’s over there under Barack Obama. But when I hear this from the Gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Johnson, ‘he doesn’t think he can win the election fair and square, so he would cheat.’ And, I’ve heard that here on this floor. No, it’s the other way around. Your number one proponent of impeachment is Al Green of Texas, and he said those very same things and they brought this case November 9th, the day after Trump was elected.”
"I yield back.”
Minnesota DFL U.S. Senator Tina Smith also spoke with KIMT about impeachment before the vote was taken Wednesday evening. Video of her comments can be seen as part of this story.
The historic vote split along party lines Wednesday night, much the way it has divided the nation, over a charge that the 45th president abused the power of his office by enlisting a foreign government to investigate a political rival ahead of the 2020 election. The House then approved a second charge, that he obstructed Congress in its investigation.
The articles of impeachment, the political equivalent of an indictment, now go to the Senate for trial. If Trump is acquitted by the Republican-led chamber, as expected, he still would have to run for reelection carrying the enduring stain of impeachment on his purposely disruptive presidency.
“The president is impeached,” Pelosi declared after the vote. She called it “great day for the Constitution of the United States, a sad one for America that the president’s reckless activities necessitated us having to introduce articles of impeachment.”
Trump, who began Wednesday tweeting his anger at the proceedings, pumped his fist before an evening rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, boasting of “tremendous support” in the Republican Party and saying, “By the way it doesn't feel like I'm being impeached.”
The votes for impeachment were 230-197-1 on the first charge, 229-198-1 on the second.
Democrats led Wednesday night’s voting, framed in what many said was their duty to protect the Constitution and uphold the nation’s system of checks and balances. Republicans stood by their party’s leader, who has frequently tested the bounds of civic norms. Trump called the whole affair a “witch hunt,” a “hoax” and a “sham,” and sometimes all three.
The trial is expected to begin in January in the Senate, where a vote of two-thirds is necessary for conviction. While Democrats had the majority in the House to impeach Trump, Republicans control the Senate and few if any are expected to diverge from plans to acquit the president ahead of early state election-year primary voting.
Pelosi, once reluctant to lead Democrats into a partisan impeachment, gaveled both votes closed, risking her majority and speakership to follow the effort to its House conclusion.
No Republicans voted for impeachment, and Democrats had only slight defections on their side. Voting was conducted manually with ballots, to mark the moment.
On the first article, abuse of power, two Democrats, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who is considering switching parties to become a Republican, and Collin Peterson of Minnesota voted against impeaching Trump. On the second article, obstruction, those two and freshman Rep. Jared Golden of Maine voted against. Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is running for president, voted “present” on both.
What Pelosi called a sad and solemn moment for the country, coming in the first year after Democrats swept control of the House, unfolded in a caustic daylong session that showcased the nation’s divisions.
The House impeachment resolution laid out in stark terms the articles of impeachment against Trump stemming from his July phone call when he asked the Ukrainian president for a “favor” — to announce he was investigating Democrats including potential 2020 rival Joe Biden.
At the time, Zelenskiy, new to politics and government, was seeking a coveted White House visit to show backing from the U.S. as he confronted a hostile Russia at his border. He was also counting on $391 million in military aid already approved by Congress. The White House delayed the funds, but Trump eventually released the money once Congress intervened.
Narrow in scope but broad in its charges, the impeachment resolution said the president “betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections,” and then obstructing Congress’ oversight like “no president" in U.S. history.
“President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office,” it said.
Republicans argued that Democrats were impeaching Trump because they can’t beat him in 2020.
Said Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah: "They want to take away my vote and throw it in the trash."
But Democrats warned the country cannot wait for the next election to decide whether Trump should remain in office because he has shown a pattern of behavior, particularly toward Russia, and will try to corrupt U.S. elections again.
"The president and his men plot on,” said Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., of the Intelligence Committee that led the inquiry. “The danger persists. The risk is real.”
The outcome brings the Trump presidency to a milestone moment that has been building almost from the time the New York businessman-turned-reality-TV host unexpectedly won the White House in 2016 amid questions about Russian interference in the U.S. election.
Democrats drew from history, the founders and their own experiences, as minorities, women and some immigrants to the U.S. spoke of seeking to honor their oath of office to uphold the Constitution. Rep. Lou Correa of California spoke in Spanish asking God to unite the nation. “In America,” said Hakeem Jeffries of New York, “no one is above the law.”
Republicans aired Trump-style grievances about what Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko called a “rigged” process.
“We face this horror because of this map,” said Rep. Clay Higgins of Alabama before a poster of red and blue states. “They call this Republican map flyover country, they call us deplorables, they fear our faith, they fear our strength, they fear our unity, they fear our vote, and they fear our president.”
The political fallout from the vote will reverberate across an already polarized country with divergent views of Trump’s July phone call when he asked Zelenskiy to investigate Democrats in the 2016 election, Biden and Biden's son Hunter, who worked on the board of a gas company in Ukraine while his father was the vice president.
Trump has repeatedly implored Americans to read the transcript of the call he said was “perfect.” But the facts it revealed, and those in an anonymous whistleblower’s complaint that sparked the probe, are largely undisputed.
More than a dozen current and former White House officials and diplomats testified for hours in impeachment hearings. The open and closed sessions under oath revealed what one called the “irregular channel” of foreign policy run by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, which focused on investigating the Bidens and alternative theories of 2016 election interference.
The question for lawmakers was whether the revelations amounted to impeachable offenses.
Few lawmakers crossed party lines.
Van Drew, who is considering changing parties over his opposition to impeachment, sat with Republicans. Rep. Justin Amash, the Michigan conservative who left the Republican party and became an independent over impeachment, said: “I come to this floor, not as a Republican, not as a Democrat, but as an American."
Beyond the impeachments of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, this first impeachment of the 21st century is as much about what the president might do in the future as what he did in the past. The investigation of Richard Nixon ended when he resigned rather than face the House vote over Watergate.
Rank and file Democrats said they were willing to lose their jobs to protect the democracy from Trump. Some newly elected freshmen remained in the chamber for hours during the debate.
Top Republicans, including Rep. Devin Nunes on the Intelligence Committee, called the Ukraine probe little more than a poor sequel to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Mueller spent two years investigating the potential links between Moscow and the Trump campaign but testified in July that his team could not establish that Trump conspired or coordinated with Russia to throw the election. Mueller did say he could not exonerate Trump of trying to obstruct the investigation, but he left that for Congress to decide.
The next day, Trump called Ukraine. Not quite four months later, a week before Christmas, Trump was impeached.