News & Politics

House Dems Get Their Christmas Wish, Vote to Impeach Trump

House Dems Get Their Christmas Wish, Vote to Impeach Trump
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., prepares the impeachment case against President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Democrats have finally impeached President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives. The House held two separate votes on two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Abuse of power passed by a vote of 230 to 197, with two Democrats voting “no.” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) voted “present.” Obstruction of Congress passed by a vote of 229 to 198. Three Democrats voted “no” on obstruction.

The articles of impeachment will now move to the U.S. Senate, where the Republican majority is expected to acquit the president. While the ultimate goal of impeachment is the removal of the president, Trump would only be pushed out if a two-thirds majority voted to convict him and remove him from office.

The “abuse of power” article is arguably based on a policy dispute. The claim centers on a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which the president asked Zelensky to investigate potential Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election and potential corruption surrounding Hunter Biden’s lucrative work with Ukrainian gas firm Burisma. Then-Vice President Joe Biden pressured Ukraine’s president to fire an investigator looking into Burisma at the time.

At the same time, Trump held up congressionally-approved funds to help Ukraine’s military efforts against Russia. Democrats have argued that Trump slow-walked the funds in order to pressure Ukraine to open the investigations, but he ended up releasing the funds without any investigations — and Ukrainian officials did not know that the funds had been withheld. To make matters worse for Democrats, Zelensky and other officials have insisted that they never felt pressure from Trump on the issue.

The alleged underlying crime is not only debatable but hard to understand. Democrats’ narrative has collapsed, but they continued their rush to impeach Trump over a policy dispute. This followed years of warnings about Russian collusion that fell apart in Robert Mueller’s report and the recent inspector general report into the FBI’s abuse of FISA in spying on Trump’s campaign.

Democrats have been attempting to impeach Trump since his election. In the hours after the 2016 presidential election, Google searches for “how to impeach a president” rose by 4,850 percent. Democrats urged the Electoral College to refuse to certify the win, nearly 70 Democratic lawmakers boycotted Trump’s inauguration, and many refused to attend his first State of the Union address.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) introduced a bill in April 2017 to determine whether to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows a president to be removed if “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Raskin found 67 co-sponsors for the bill, and he continued to advocate for it, as recently as September 2019.

As early as September 2017, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) urged impeachment, saying that “there is no law” on the process. In doing so, she ignored the Constitution’s standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Last year, amid the controversy about Trump’s payments to former mistresses, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said, “The president is a criminal. … This criminal must be brought up by the Congress of the United States for impeachment.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D-N.Y.), argued that Trump committed an impeachable offense from “day one.”

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) filed articles of impeachment against Trump, citing his “racist tweets.” His articles failed, but his pressure may have helped lead to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to cave. Green tweeted that the president’s “racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and Islamophobia can no longer be tolerated or ignored. We must impeach.”

On Tuesday night, President Trump sent Pelosi a letter condemning the impeachment effort.

“The Articles of Impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee are not recognizable under any standard of Constitutional theory, interpretation, or jurisprudence,” the president wrote. “They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever. You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!”

“You are the ones interfering in America’s elections,” Trump thundered at Pelosi. “You are the ones subverting America’s Democracy. You are the ones Obstructing Justice. You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish personal, political, and partisan gain.”

Jenna Ellis, a constitutional lawyer and senior legal advisor to the Trump campaign, called for Democrats supporting impeachment to be expelled from Congress for violating their oaths to uphold the Constitution by weaponizing impeachment contrary to the express will of the Founders.

Not one Republican voted for Trump’s impeachment. However, former Republican Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) did vote to oust the president. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.) announced that he would leave the Democratic Party and become a Republican over his opposition to impeachment.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.