Trump becomes third president impeached by U.S. House

President Donald Trump sounded a defiant tone at a Michigan rally Wednesday night as the U.S. House of Representatives passed its historic impeachment vote. Contributed by Andrew Roth.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted to impeach President Donald Trump Wednesday night, making him the third president to be impeached in U.S. history. 

Trump was impeached on largely party line votes on charges that he abused power and obstructed Congress. The charges surround allegations that Trump improperly pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival in an effort to interfere with the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

No House Republicans voted to adopt either impeachment article. Two House Democrats voted against both articles of impeachment — Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey. Van Drew was reportedly planning to switch parties to become a Republican. Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) voted yes on the first article but against the obstruction of Congress article. Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who is running for president, voted “present” on both articles.

Georgia’s delegation voted entirely along party lines. Georgia Democratic Reps. Sanford Bishop, Hank Johnson, John Lewis, Lucy McBath and David Scott voted in support of both impeachment articles. Republican Reps. Rick Allen, Buddy Carter, Drew Ferguson, Tom Graves, Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk, Austin Scott and Rob Woodall voted against both articles.

The vote came after a lengthy and heated debate on the House floor, as Democrats warned that Trump had trampled on the U.S. Constitution, while his GOP defenders accused the House majority of manufacturing a case for impeachment due to their disdain for Trump’s policies. 

“The founders’ great fear of a rogue or corrupt president is the very reason why they enshrined impeachment in the Constitution,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on the House floor ahead of the vote. “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice.”

Only two other presidents had previously been impeached by the House: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both of those presidents were acquitted by the Senate. 

Trump also appears to be headed for acquittal in the GOP-led Senate. A trial, in which House Democrats will argue their case before the upper chamber of Congress, is expected to begin next month. 

Some senators have been cautious about stating whether they’ll vote to remove Trump from office, arguing that they’ll be jurors in the trial and don’t want to prejudge the outcome. But not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that he is “not at all impartial” on impeachment and that it is a “political process.”

As lawmakers prepared to vote on Wednesday, Trump wrote on Twitter: “SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!”

Trump held a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Mich., on Wednesday night. “By the way, it doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached, the country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong and we have tremendous support in the Republican Party like never before,” Trump said, according to The Washington Post.

Georgia Democrats took to the House floor during the day-long debate on Wednesday to make their case for impeachment.

“This is a sad day. It is not a day of joy. Our nation is founded on the principle that we do not have kings, we have presidents.” Atlanta’s John Lewis said. “For some, this vote may be hard, but we have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history.”

Rep. Hank Johnson, a Lithonia Democrat, referenced the July phone conversation between Trump and Ukraine’s president in his remarks.

“President Trump’s attempt to sabotage the 2020 election is a clear and present danger on our democracy,” Johnson said. “We know that it’s wrong to enlist the help of foreigners in interfering in our elections. We know it’s wrong to cheat, and we know what’s at stake. It’s not just that our elections were attacked; our elections are under attack right now.”

Republicans, meanwhile, spent the debate accusing their Democratic colleagues of pursuing a political vendetta against the president, pointing frequently to statements Democrats had made supporting impeachment before the Ukraine investigation was launched. 

“Why do we keep calling this a solemn occasion, when you’ve been wanting to do this ever since (Trump) was elected?” said Georgia Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. “The people of America see through this. The people of America understand due process and they understand when it is being trampled in the people’s House.”

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, a Greensboro Republican, was more succinct.

“It’s time for us to stop this hoax and vote against articles of impeachment,” Hice said. 

Georgia Congressman Barry Loudermilk, a Cassville Republican, compared the Democrats’ approach to the impeachment proceedings to Pontius Pilate’s treatment of Jesus.

“When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers,” Loudermilk said. “During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than Democrats have afforded this president in this process.”

And in a signal that impeachment is an issue that will reverberate through state-level politics in 2020, three Georgia senators pre-filed a resolution condemning the process as a violation of due process that can be debated when the General Assembly convenes in Atlanta next month.

“The president has been driving these guys crazy because he’s getting things done,” said Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee. “When you drain the swamp, the swamp fights back. They started attacking the president before the election even.” 

Democrats vehemently denied GOP attacks that they were pursuing impeachment because they hate Trump’s policies or dislike him personally. 

One independent congressman, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, sided with Democrats to vote for both articles of impeachment. Amash, who helped found the conservative House Freedom Caucus, left the GOP earlier this year after calling for Trump’s impeachment. 

Trump’s “actions reflect precisely the type of conduct the framers of the Constitution intended to remedy through the power of impeachment, and it is our duty to impeach him,” Amash said Wednesday on the House floor. 

Georgia Recorder editor-in-chief John McCosh contributed to this article.