WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump on allegations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress following an entire day of debate on the House floor.
The House Rules Committee adopted guidelines Tuesday that spelled out how the vote went down. Under those rules, Democrats and Republicans had six hours to debate the impeachment articles. The time was split evenly between the two parties.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi opened the debate by accusing Trump of violating the Constitution and urging members to honor their oath of office.
"It is tragic that the president's reckless actions make impeachment necessary,” said Pelosi. “He gives us no choice."
The debate was controlled by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) and Doug Collins (Ga.), the top Democrat and Republican members of the Judiciary Committee.
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Following Pelosi, Nadler and Collins delivered their opening statements and then started calling on their respective representatives to step up to the mic.
Nadler argued that Trump’s dealings in Ukraine were not based on “any legitimate national security or foreign policy interest” and that evidence against him fits the Founders’ definition of abuse of power.
“For this alone, he should be impeached,” Nadler said.
Collins delivered a familiar argument against impeachment, claiming Trump didn’t do anything wrong and accusing Democrats of pushing impeachment through because they fear Trump at the ballot box.
"I will fight this on process, which has been deplorable to use a word of the majority,” said Collins. “It has been awful. We don't care about rules because the Chairman gets to determine what is relevant. Wow, that's pretty good, let the accuser determine what is relevant to the one being accused. The people of America see through this. The people of America understand due process and they understand when it is being trampled in the people's House."
After the six hours elapsed, the House voted on the articles of impeachment individually and both were approved. No Republicans voted to approve the articles, but the Democrats had the numbers, even with a few members voting against or “present.”
Next, the House will likely approve a resolution that would allow impeachment managers to be named and the next phase of the impeachment process would begin with a trial in the Senate.
The impeachment inquiry was launched in September after a whistleblower came forward with information about a July phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. During the call, Trump allegedly asked Zelensky to “do us a favor” by opening investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and the interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In particular, Democrats allege that Trump used the promise of a White House meeting and nearly $400 million in U.S. aid that had been approved by Congress as leverage to get Zelensky to make a public commitment about the proposed probes.
Democrats argue that Trump abused his office by pressing Ukrainian leaders to find dirt on political rivals and obstructed Congress when lawmakers sought to investigate the incident.
Trump continues to deny any wrongdoing. In a fiery letter sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, the president defended his “absolutely perfect” phone call that sparked the impeachment inquiry. He also tried to justify the Ukrainian investigations he wanted into Biden. And, he disputed the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress’ investigation.
Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, saying he couldn't believe he was being impeached and asking for the public to "Say a PRAYER!"
Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG! A terrible Thing. Read the Transcripts. This should never happen to another President again. Say a PRAYER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2019