WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House of Representatives late on December 18 impeached President Donald Trump, advancing the proceedings to the Senate for a trial on whether to convict and remove him from office.
The 45th president becomes only the third U.S. president to be formally charged for high crimes and misdemeanors as prescribed in the constitution.
He was impeached on two counts: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Both articles were passed in the Democratic-led House of Representatives.
They relate to Trump, a Republican, abusing his presidential power by enlisting the help of a foreign ally, Ukraine, to investigate a political rival ahead of the 2020 election.
On the second charge, Trump is accused of withholding thousands of documents that the House had requested during the fact-finding component of the impeachment inquiry and blocking witnesses from testifying before the investigative congressional panels.
At a campaign rally in Michigan, Trump said the Democrats “are trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans,” in reference to the 2016 presidential election that he won.
Trump said: “By the way, it doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached.”
He has previously described the impeachment inquiry as a “witch hunt” and the congressional panels that heard witness testimony as a “kangaroo court.”
The articles of impeachment are the equivalent of an indictment and now will go to the upper legislative chamber, the Senate, for a trial that is expected to convene in January and which will be presided over by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts.
However, minutes after the impeachment vote, House speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat-California) wouldn’t say when or whether she would send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
Instead, she said “we’ll see what happens” regarding her intentions to send the articles to the Senate. Pelosi said that House Democrats could not name whom they would send as prosecutors in a Senate trial until they know more about how the Senate will conduct a trial.
A majority vote of two-thirds is needed for conviction. Since Republicans control the Senate, an acquittal is expected.