The United States House of Representatives has impeached President Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanour after a heated hours-long debate on Wednesday, making him the third President ever to be impeached in the history of the world’s longest-standing Democracy.
President Trump was charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress by Democrats-led lower chamber in a case that started nearly five months ago when he — during a July 25 phone call, pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to open a corruption investigation into his potential 2020 election rival, Joe Bide and his son, Hunter Biden.
He was believed to have conditioned Congress approved $391 million in military aid to Ukraine which is at war with Russia on President Zelensky’s opening of the investigation and announcing it on national television – a move many supporters of the impeachment argued violated his oath of office– in that he was trying to gain a political advantage by inviting a foreign government to interfere in the country’s election.
After a whistle-blower’s complaints about the call and the political staredown that immediately ensued , an impeachment inquiry was opened by the Democrats on September 9 despite strong opposition by the Republicans but Mr Trump obstructed the investigation by refusing to comply with subpoenas and directing members of his administration not to testify.
At the debate which preceded the impeachment vote, Republicans hammered on the shoddy style of the process while condemning it as a sheer political vendetta as their rivals, Democrats have wanted him out of office since the first day he was sworn-in.
The House voted 230-197 to charge Trump with abuse of power and 229-198 to charge him with obstruction of Congress. The votes were largely split along party lines: just two Democrats voted against both articles, Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who is expected to soon switch parties. A third, Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, voted for one impeachment article. Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, voted present for both articles.
Republican-turned independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan voted to impeach Trump on both counts.
President Trump in the call had told his contemporary, Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal attorney, on a probe into Hunter Biden related to his position and earnings at a Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings Limited — which is alleged to be involved in high corruption.
Following today’s impeachment, the Republicans-led Senate is expected to hold an official trial expected to start next month during which a determination will be made on whether to remove Mr Trump from office or not.