House to vote on impeachment of Donald Trump
Donald Trump is set to become the third president in American history to be impeached on Wednesday when the House of Representatives gathers to vote on whether he abused the power of his office by attempting to extort a political favour from Ukraine and then obstructed the subsequent congressional investigation into his conduct.
The debate is due to begin at 9am EST (2pm GMT) after which votes will then be held and the outcome – pretty much assured – will leave a defining stain on the president’s tenure at the White House. According to tallies compiled by the Associated Press and The Washington Post, Trump is on track to be formally charged by a house majority.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to colleagues yesterday remarking: “Very sadly, the facts have made clear that the president abused his power for his own personal, political benefit and that he obstructed congress. In America, no-one is above the law. During this very prayerful moment in our nation’s history, we must honour our oath to support and defend our constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
The rare undertaking to impeach a president, set to unfold over more than six hours of heated debate on Wednesday, is splitting Congress much as the country at large harbours differing views on Trump’s unusual presidency.
The president continues to implores the electorate to “read the transcript” but the facts of his 25 July phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky are not necessarily in dispute. The American leader is heard to ask Zelensky to investigate Democrats and his 2020 political rival Joe Biden. At the time, his newly-elected Ukrainian counterpart was hoping for a coveted White House visit to showcase his standing with the US, his country’s most important ally. He was also counting on nearly $391m (£302m) in military aid as his country confronts a hostile neighbour, Russia.
The House impeachment resolution offers little room for doubt, saying Trump’s actions were like “no other” president in history. He “betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections”, it says.
“President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the constitution if allowed to remain in office.”
Ahead of House votes, one by one, centrist Democratic members of congress, including many first-term freshmen who built the House majority and could risk their re-election in districts where the president is popular, announced they would vote to impeach. While Republicans disagreed, firmly.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell set the partisan tone for the next step, as attention will shift to the senate which, under the US constitution, is required to hold a trial on the charges. That trial is expected to begin in January. “I’m not an impartial juror,” McConnell declared. The Republican-majority chamber is all but sure to acquit the president.