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Trump becomes 3rd president impeached in U.S. history

2019-12-29 Xinhua

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 -- The Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to pass two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, who has become the third president in U.S. history to be formally impeached and will face a trial in the Senate.

The House passed the first article, which accused Trump of abuse of power, on a vote of 230-197 with one voting "present," Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Two Democrats, Collin Peterson of northern state Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of eastern state New Jersey, voted against impeaching Trump, while Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a Democratic who is running for president, voted "present."

The vote for the second article charging the president of obstruction of Congress was passed 229-198 with Gabbard voting "present."

Republicans rejected the two charges unanimously.

The voting results marked the most partisan of all three presidential impeachments in U.S. history as the deep polarization gripping American politics continues in the Trump era, some local analysts said.

"NO CHOICE"

"It is tragic that the president's reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice," Pelosi said when kicking off the debate hours before the historic vote.

Trump "tried to cheat. He got caught. He confessed. And then he obstructed the investigation," Democrat David Cicilline said during the debate.

When Pelosi and fellow House Democrats described the impeachment proceedings as a war to defend U.S. democracy, Trump and fellow House Republicans slammed the Democrats' impeachment effort "an assault" on the country as well as on the Republican Party with an aim to overturn the results of the 2016 election and hurt his reelection campaign.

"Such atrocious lies by the radical left, do nothing Democrats. This is an assault on the Republican party," Trump tweeted in capital letters before the vote.

"The American people see through this sad charade for what it is: an attempt to undo the 2016 election based on hearsay and opinion," said Ross Spano, a Republican from southeastern U.S. state Florida, during the debate.

After the impeachment vote, the White House expressed confidence that Trump would be "fully exonerated."

"Today marks the culmination in the House of one of the most shameful political episodes in the history of our nation," White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

"The president is confident the Senate will restore regular order, fairness, and due process, all of which were ignored in the House proceedings. He is prepared for the next steps and confident that he will be fully exonerated," the statement said.

PUBLIC SPLIT

Trump held a "Merry Christmas" rally Wednesday night at Battle Creek in Michigan, one of the key swing states in the U.S. Midwest. Thousands of people attended the rally in bitterly cold weather, chanting "Four more years!"

One day earlier, a number of rallies supporting the Trump impeachment were held in New York, Atlanta, Cleveland and several other cities across the country.

As the House lawmakers debated on Wednesday, a group of people supporting the impeachment gathered outside the Capitol, waving signs and banners that read "Country over Party," "Criminal in Chief," and "Fake President."

"Trump's behavior didn't leave Democrats a choice," Terrie Waters, a demonstrator from Virginia, told Xinhua.

"There is no case," Tom Korea, a Trump supporter from Maryland, told Xinhua. "They (Democrats) are harming America."

Korea called Washington politics "a swamp, figuratively and literally."

According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Wednesday, 48 percent of American registered voters believe that Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while an equal 48 percent say they disagree.

"Views on Donald Trump's impeachment remain locked in place, with most Americans having made up their mind both on Trump and the impeachment investigation a long time ago," said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research.

PARTISAN STRUGGLE

Although the House passed the impeachment, Pelosi on Wednesday refused to commit to delivering articles of impeachment to the Republican-controlled Senate, citing concerns about an unfair trial on removing Trump from office.

"So far we haven't seen anything that looks fair to us," Pelosi told reporters after the impeachment votes.

The House was "very unlikely" to take the steps necessary to send the articles to the Senate until at least early January, a delay of at least two weeks and perhaps longer, according to a Politico report, citing senior Democratic aides.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday refused Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer's framework on the impeachment trial including testimony from four former and current White House senior officials, signaling he wanted the impeachment trial to mirror that of Bill Clinton.

Asked if he would be an impartial juror, McConnell called himself "not an impartial juror."

"This is a political process. There's not anything judicial about it," he said.

McConnell has said in public that he will be "in total coordination" with the White House in determining the Republican strategy for the impeachment trial.

Under the U.S. Constitution, conviction can only happen in the Senate and requires the support of at least two-thirds of its members, or 67 senators.

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