The Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
As the vote ended, Trump became the third president in the U.S. history to be impeached.
The full House voted on the two articles of impeachment separately but largely along party lines after hours of heated and polarized floor debate.
“It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said when kicking off the debate hours before the vote.
After the impeachment vote, the White House expressed confidence that Trump would be “fully exonerated.”
“Today marks the culmination in the House of one of the most shameful political episodes in the history of our nation. Without receiving a single Republican vote, and without providing any proof of wrongdoing, Democrats pushed illegitimate articles of impeachment against the president through the House of Representatives,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
“The president is confident the Senate will restore regular order, fairness, and due process, all of which were ignored in the House proceedings. He is prepared for the next steps and confident that he will be fully exonerated,” the statement said.
Though the House passed the impeachment, Pelosi refused to commit to delivering articles of impeachment to the Republican-controlled Senate, citing concerns about an unfair trial on removing Trump from office.
“So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us,” Pelosi told reporters after the impeachment vote.
The House was “very unlikely” to take the steps necessary to send the articles to the Senate until at least early January, a delay of at least two weeks and perhaps longer, according to a Politico report, citing senior Democratic aides.
Prior to and amid the House debate before the impeachment vote, Trump issued or retweeted tweets from early Wednesday morning, calling Democrats’ impeachment effort “an assault” on the country as well as on the Republican Party.
On Wednesday night, Trump held a “Merry Christmas” rally at Battle Creek in Michigan, one of the key swing states in the U.S. Midwest. Thousands of Trump supporters attended the rally in bitterly cold weather, chanting “Four more years!”
“After three years of sinister witch hunts, hoaxes, scams, the House Democrats are trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans,” Trump said during the rally.
House Democrats have for long accused Trump of abusing his office by pressuring Ukraine to pursue investigations into political opponent that could benefit his reelection campaign.
The White House has refused to cooperate in the impeachment inquiry, accusing Democrats of an unfair process that aims to overturn the results of the 2016 election.
Under the U.S. constitution, the House has the sole power of impeachment while the Senate has the sole power to try all impeachments.
Conviction can only happen in the Senate and requires at least two-thirds of its members, or 67 senators, to vote in favor after a trial.
Source: Xinhua – WASHINGTON