Updated Dec 18, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Trump impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress

A silhouette profile image of President Donald Trump speaking into a microphone

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Donald Trump is now the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

The big picture: The legislative ending seems clear — he's headed for acquittal in the Senate as early as next month and won't be removed from office. But this seals his place in history.

  • Trump could still win re-election next November and serve a second term. He's the first impeached president in U.S. history who is both eligible to run for re-election and already guaranteed his party's nomination.

Trump is being impeached for withholding aid to Ukraine to pressure its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to announce an investigation into Joe Biden — the former vice president and Trump's potential election rival — and Biden's son, Hunter.

Details: The first of two articles of impeachment — abuse of power — was approved easily, 230-197. The second article, charging Trump with obstruction of Congress, was approved 229-198.

  • Two Democrats — Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey — voted against both articles.
  • Jared Golden of Maine voted for the abuse of power article, but against the article on obstruction of Congress.
  • Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who's running for president, voted "present" on both articles.
  • Not one House Republican voted in favor of either article. Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican who's now an independent, voted for both articles.
  • The House of Representatives is a 435-member body, but in this case, 216 constitutes a majority because there are currently 431 members and four vacancies.

What's next: It's unclear when Speaker Nancy Pelosi will send the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Following the historic votes, she would not commit to a definitive timeline and said she was waiting until the Senate determines what the trial rules will be.

  • “We’re not sending them tonight” because it’s difficult for the House to name impeachment managers until it's clear how the Senate intends to conduct the trial, she said. But she cited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's comment that he's "not an impartial juror" as an example of what she doesn't consider a "fair trial."
  • The Senate trial is expected to be as short as two weeks, and it will likely involve no new witnesses, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Earlier, Pelosi opened the debate by saying Trump had left Congress no choice but impeachment and that he poses an "ongoing threat to our national security and the integrity of our elections, the basis of our democracy."

  • Two past U.S. presidents were impeached by the House: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both were acquitted in the Senate. Johnson failed to win his party's nomination to seek re-election. Clinton was impeached in his second term. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 ahead of certain impeachment.

Split screen: While the House was voting to impeach the president, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Battle Creek, Michigan, for a "Merry Christmas Rally" hosted by the Trump re-election campaign.

  • "It doesn't really feel like we're being impeached," Trump said at the rally moments before the first vote.
  • "I know that here in Michigan and all across America, voters will remember in November," Pence said.

One big question: Will any of the 31 Democratic House members who won in 2018 in districts that Trump won in 2016 lose re-election as a result of their votes today?

Public sentiment: A new CNN poll released this week shows Americans are divided on impeachment.

  • 45% of those polled support impeaching Trump and removing him from office, down from 50% in November.
  • 47% said they oppose impeachment and removal, up from 43% in November.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with Pelosi's comments, the vote totals on both articles of impeachment and other vote details.

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