U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Impeach President Donald Trump

Trump will next face a trial in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans have a majority.

Dec 18, 2019 at 9:04 pm
President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in West Chester - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in West Chester

In a vote largely along party lines, the U.S House of Representatives this evening agreed to impeach Republican President Donald Trump on accusations that he abused his power in office and obstructed Congress.

In a 230-197 vote, all but two Democrats moved to impeach Trump on the abuse of power charge. A third Democrat demurred on the obstruction of Congress charge, making that vote 229-197. No Republicans crossed the aisle to support the articles of impeachment.

Trump is the third president to be impeached after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Congress also attempted to impeach John Tyler and Richard Nixon, though Nixon resigned from office before he could be impeached.

The articles of impeachment Congress approved today are in effect the charges on which Trump will be tried in the Senate, where a two-thirds majority will need to agree for Trump to be removed from office. Neither Johnson nor Clinton were removed by the Senate, and efforts to remove Trump will face a high bar there as well — Republicans hold a 53-seat advantage in the 100-seat chamber.

The impeachment proceedings relate to Trump's interactions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which the president is accused of seeking an investigation into political rival former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

The president's critics — including Democrats but also former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, both Republicans — say the president broke the law with those telephone inquiries and subsequent public statements asking Ukraine and China to investigate Biden and his son, the latter of whom served on the board of an energy company in Ukraine.

During his time as vice president, Biden pushed Ukraine to remove a Viktor Shokin, a prosecutor there long-thought to be corrupt. Trump alleges that the elder Biden did so because that prosecutor was investigating his son.

Thus far, there is no evidence that this was the case — and a number of statements from officials both in the U.S. and Ukraine, including U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, show that the prosecutor who was removed was indeed suspected of corruption.

Ohio's two senators  — who will be among those deciding Trump's fate during his coming trial in the Senate next month — have been on opposite sides of the mostly partisan debate.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said in late October that Trump's alleged actions — withholding aid from Ukraine until officials there launched an investigation into his political rivals — are impeachable and worse than those taken by nearly-impeached president Richard Nixon.

"Trump clearly blocked $300 million that Congress had passed that would go to our ally Ukraine to fight Russian aggression," Brown told reporters Oct. 30 "Trump held it up to ask for a political and personal favor. With all of Nixon's lawbreaking, he never did anything like that, and it's clearly an impeachable offense."

Brown wasn't all-in, however. He has said he isn't sure yet whether the president should be removed from office.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, however, says that while Trump's actions were inappropriate, they do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses. Portman has also indicated he will vote for Trump in 2020 — something he says he didn't do in 2016.

"I think at this stage where we are already into the presidential election, the best thing to do is for people who would like to see Donald Trump in office or out of office is to focus on the election," Portman said during a call with media in October. "That's how we work in this country."