US President Donald Trump impeached, faces Senate trial

It was done on allegations he abused the power of the presidency to benefit himself politically and obstructed Congress

The US House gaveled in for a historic session on 18 December night to impeach President Donald Trump on allegations that he abused his power and obstructed congressional efforts to investigate his actions. In a vote that will leave a lasting mark on his tenure at the White House, Trump has now become the third American chief executive to be formally charged under the Constitution’s ultimate remedy for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The historic undertaking to impeach a President, which unfold over more than six hours of debate on Wednesday, has split the lawmakers much the way Americans have different views of Trump’s unusual presidency and the articles of impeachment against him. In the end, however, on a near straight party-line vote, the Democrat-controlled House approved two articles of impeachment against Trump - the first one was 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.

One of the articles of impeachment approved by the House accused Trump of abusing the power of the presidency by soliciting a foreign government, Ukraine, to undertake the investigations to help him run against Biden, who is leading national polls of Democrats in the race for the party's presidential nomination to oppose Trump next year. In the 230-197 vote on Article I, all but two Democrats voted for approval, and all Republicans voted against it.

The second impeachment allegation said Trump obstructed Congress by withholding thousands of Ukraine-related documents from House impeachment investigators and then blocking key officials in his administration from testifying during weeks of hearings Democratic-controlled committees conducted into Trump's actions related to Ukraine. In the 229-198 vote on Article II, all but three Democrats voted for approval, and all Republicans voted against it.

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, and a sad one for America that the president’s reckless activities necessitated us having to introduce articles of impeachment.”

“It is tragic that the president's reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice,” Pelosi also said, this time while launching debate in the House of Representatives on impeaching the US leader.

In the meantime, the White House released a statement shortly after the vote, calling it a "sham impeachment" and the culmination of "one of the most shameful political episodes in the history of our Nation."

Early on 18 December, Trump tweeted his outrage: “Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG! A terrible thing.”

The President fired off a furious letter to Ms. Pelosi on 17 December denouncing the “vicious crusade” against him but acknowledging he was powerless to stop the expected outcome. "When people look back at this affair, I want them to understand it, and learn from it, so that it can never happen to another president again,” he wrote.

The outcome, however, 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 US election. The political fallout from the vote will also 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.

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