Trump becomes 3rd president impeached by U.S. House

Michigan delegation split 8-6

U.S. President Donald Trump exits a press conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2019 in New York City. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that the House will launch a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted to impeach President Donald Trump Wednesday night, making him the third president to be impeached in U.S. history. 

Trump was impeached on largely party line votes on charges that he abused power and obstructed Congress. The charges surround allegations that Trump improperly pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival in an effort to interfere with the 2020 U.S. presidential election. 

Only two other presidents had previously been impeached by the House: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both of those presidents were acquitted by the Senate. 

U.S. House Judiciary panel votes to impeach Trump, full vote could come during his Michigan trip

No House Republicans voted to adopt either impeachment article. Two House Democrats voted against both articles of impeachment — U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey. Van Drew was reportedly planning to switch parties to become a Republican. U.S. Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) voted yes on the first article but against the obstruction of Congress article. 

Tulsi Gabbard after the second debate | Andrew Roth

Hawaii Democratic U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard — who’s running for president — voted “present” on both articles.

Michigan’s 14-member delegation was split 8-6 on both counts, with U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Cascade Twp.) — who left the GOP and the conservative House Freedom Caucus he helped found because he supported an impeachment inquiry — joining all seven Democrats in voting yes. All six Republicans voted no.

The vote came after a lengthy and heated debate on the House floor, as Democrats warned that Trump had trampled on the U.S. Constitution, while his GOP defenders accused the House majority of manufacturing a case for impeachment due to their disdain for Trump’s policies. 

Amash, the chamber’s lone independent and a constitutional lawyer, argued that Trump’s “actions reflect precisely the type of conduct the framers of the Constitution intended to remedy through the power of impeachment, and it is our duty to impeach him.”

Amash: Trump has ‘engaged in impeachable conduct’

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shared similar thoughts on the House floor ahead of the vote.

“The founders’ great fear of a rogue or corrupt president is the very reason why they enshrined impeachment in the Constitution,” she said. “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) returns to the U.S. Capitol from a meeting at the White House Jan. 9, 2019 | Alex Wong, Getty Images

Trump also appears to be headed for acquittal in the GOP-led U.S. Senate. A trial, in which House Democrats will argue their case before the upper chamber of Congress, is expected to begin next month. 

Some senators have been cautious about stating whether they’ll vote to remove Trump from office, arguing that they’ll be jurors in the trial and don’t want to prejudge the outcome. But not U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). 

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that he is “not at all impartial” on impeachment and that it is a “political process.”

As lawmakers prepared to vote on Wednesday, Trump wrote on Twitter: “SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!”

President Donald Trump rally in Battle Creek, Dec. 18, 2019 | Andrew Roth

Trump held a campaign rally in Battle Creek on Wednesday night. This was his first trip back to Michigan since he kicked off his reelection campaign in March in Grand Rapids. The city was also Trump’s last stop before his surprise 2016 victory.

“By the way, it doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached, the country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong and we have tremendous support in the Republican Party like never before,” Trump declared.

Democrats, including some in districts won by Trump in 2016, streamed onto the House floor during the daylong debate on Wednesday to make their case for impeachment. 

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) is a member of the progressive “Squad” who called for Trump’s impeachment on the day she was sworn into office.

“Doing nothing here … is not an option. Looking away from these crimes against our country is not an option. This is about protecting the future of our nation and our democracy from corruption, abuse of power, criminal coverups and bribery,” she said.

Tlaib declares Dems will impeach Trump

Last month, U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) floated the idea of censuring Trump instead, but on Wednesday she joined the majority of her party.

“Today, history is being written. The facts are conclusive: The president attempted to use the power of the powerful office of the president to force Ukraine to influence our 2020 election,” she said. “In the process, President Trump jeopardized our national security and withheld vital military assistance intended to prevent further Russian aggression to our region.” 

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee | Andrew Roth

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) is a member of the U.S. House Democrats leadership team who came around on impeachment hearings early on.

“The president has abused the powers of his office, betrayed the public trust and undermined America’s national security by pressuring a foreign government to interfere in our elections for his own political gain,” Kildee said. “In this moment in our history, the Constitution is clear, the remedy for such misconduct by a president is impeachment. I didn’t come here to Congress to impeach a president of the United States, but sadly the president’s misconduct leaves us no choice but to follow the Constitution.” 

For U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.), impeachment was about the threat to U.S. national security.

“Today, we do nothing more and nothing less than fulfill our duty to our country and to our Constitution,” he said. “Mr. Trump has allowed foreign powers to interfere in our domestic affairs. He has endangered our national security and our democracy itself. For those reasons, we must impeach this president.” 

Democrats’ impeachment articles: Trump abused power, obstructed Congress

Some Democrats delivered sharper rebukes of the president, arguing that failing to impeach Trump would set a precedent that other presidents could invite foreign interference in U.S. elections. 

“I know the president said that he can get away with anything he wants to. I come today to tell you that no, he cannot, because no one is above the law and he shall be held accountable,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), who was involved in the House investigation of the Ukraine scandal. 

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that in his almost 40 years in the House under six presidential administrations, he never expected to “encounter such an obvious wrongdoing by a president of the United States. Nor did I expect to witness such a craven rationalization of presidential actions which have put our national security at risk, undermined the integrity of our elections and defied the constitutional authority of the Congress to conduct oversight.” 

Republicans, meanwhile, spent the debate accusing their Democratic colleagues of pursuing a political vendetta against the president, pointing frequently to statements Democrats had made supporting impeachment before the Ukraine investigation was launched. 

Dems cite ‘overwhelming’ evidence for impeachment, GOP unmoved

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) called it “a complete and total sham” and said “our Founding Fathers never intended impeachment to be a one-sided political weapon.

“History will not be kind to the vote today; it will be remembered as a rushed process that lacks credibility or transparency with a predetermined outcome that puts a premium on political theater instead of facts,” Walberg added.

U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden) said that the “issue is not whether we agree with or like the president’s rhetoric, political tactics, use of Twitter, policy choices or his political rallies. 

“These proceedings are weaponizing impeachment, making it another election tool,” he added. “… It is clear President Trump’s actions as described in these articles do not constitute treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors. You [Democrats] simply don’t like him.” 

U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) said the vote is “the culmination of the Democrats’ three-year-long quest to delegitimize the president,” and added that “if this isn’t partisan politics, I don’t know what is.

U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman |Andrew Roth

“The impeachment votes today represent the worst of Washington, D.C., yet another reason my constituents are so disillusioned with the process and disappointed by the 116th Congress,” Bergman said.

The arguments were similar from GOP leaders.

“Why do we keep calling this a solemn occasion, when you’ve been wanting to do this ever since [Trump]  was elected?” said Georgia U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. 

Ohio U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, agreed that “the president has been driving these guys crazy because he’s getting things done,” said “When you drain the swamp, the swamp fights back. They started attacking the president before the election even.” 

President Donald J. Trump is seen in silhouette holding an umbrella as he talks to members of the press on the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, prior to boarding Marine One to begin his trip to Hershey, Pa. | Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian via Flickr Public Domain

Democrats vehemently denied GOP attacks that they were pursuing impeachment because they hate Trump’s policies or dislike him personally. 

“I don’t hate the president, but I love my country and I have no other choice,” said U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.). “Voting for these articles of impeach is the only moral course of action, the only way to honor our oath of office. I have no doubt that the votes I cast today will stand the test of time.” 

Robin Bravender
Robin Bravender was the States Newsroom Washington Bureau Chief from January 2019 until June 2020. She coordinated the network’s national coverage and reported on states’ congressional delegations, federal agencies, the White House and the federal courts. Prior to that, Robin was an editor and reporter at E&E News, a reporter at Politico, and a freelance producer for Reuters TV.
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Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.