As was 100% expected, the House has voted to impeach President Trump (for abuse of power), who joins Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as the only presidents to be impeached since the adoption of the Constitution in 1788.
It all began just after midday with the following...
"Today, as speaker of the House, I solemnly and sadly open the debate on the impeachment of the president of the United States," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said from the House floor shortly after noon.
"It is tragic that the president's reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice."
And ended just over eight hours later
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy closes: “He is president today, he’ll be president tomorrow and he will be president when this impeachment over.”
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) closes: "All of us feel a sense of loyalty to party. It's what makes our two-party system function. But party loyalty must have its limits...it has become increasingly clear that the limits of partisanship have been reached and passed."
And the result after 219 speakers from both sides of the aisle today, as most expected, all Republicans voted against impeachment, all Democrats except three voted for the first article of impeachment...
Article 1 - Abuse Of Power - vote 230 in favor, 197 opposed, 1 present:
All Republicans voted against impeachment, all Democrats except four voted for the second article of impeachment...
Article 2 - Obstruction - vote:
Tulsi Gabbard voted "present" while New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who’s in the process of becoming a Republican; and Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, who represents what’s considered the country’s most conservative Democratic district, both broke ranks and voted against impeachment.
...and Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (the sole Independent member of the House) voted for impeachment.
The question now is simple - will Pelosi keep the articles to herself (to avoid the spectacle of utter defeat in the Senate)? Or pass them on for what McConnell has called a quick decision.
What the Constitution says about what happens next
A president who has been impeached by the House can still serve as president. It’s up to the Senate to hold a trial to decide whether to remove him from office. The two other presidents impeached by the House, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, were both acquitted by the Senate.
The Constitution only says that the Senate has to hold a trial, with the senators sitting as jurors, House lawmakers serving as prosecutors known as managers and the chief justice of the United States presiding over it. They must take a public vote, and two-thirds of senators present must agree on whether to convict the president and thus remove him from office. But the Constitution doesn’t lay out exactly how to hold a trial.
But, as WaPo reports, a group of House Democrats is pushing Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders to withhold the articles of impeachment against President Trump that are expected to emerge on Wednesday, potentially delaying a Senate trial for months.
The notion of impeaching Trump but holding the articles in the House has gained traction among some on the political left as a way of potentially forcing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to conduct a trial on more favorable terms for Democrats.
And if no agreement is reached, some have argued, the trial could be delayed indefinitely, denying Trump an expected acquittal.
However, as Byron York noted rather pointedly:
"How do Democrats impeach and withhold when they've been telling everybody Trump must be removed right now because he poses an immediate threat to our elections?
Would Dems go straight from pre-emptive impeachment to deferred impeachment?"
And remember, the public is now against impeachment broadly...
Some high/lowlights from the multi-hour debacle include:
Here is what the Democrats believed...Cicilline said if they do not hold Trump accountable, then “we will live in a dictatorship.”
Democrats were, in their own words, "sad" to impeach the president... “I’m saddened, but I’m not shocked,” Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California said.
Serial impeacher Rep. Al Green decided to use a fake, debunked photo of an immigrant child crying as an example of why Trump should be impeached... “In the name of democracy, on behalf of the republic, and for the sake of many who are suffering,” Green said as he pointed directly of the photo, “I will vote to impeach and I encourage my colleagues to do so as well. No one is beyond justice in this country.”
Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert passionately warned that the end of America was in sight... “This is a travesty and we’re in big trouble because Schumer was right... This country’s end is now in sight... I hope I don’t live to see it. This is an outrage."
And finally, Louisiana Republican Rep. Clay Higgins delivered the darkest, most ominous speech of the day.
“I have descended into the belly of the beast. I have witnessed the terror within, and I rise committed to oppose the insidious forces which threaten our Republic,” Higgins opened.
“America’s being severely injured by this betrayal, by this unjust and weaponized impeachment, brought upon us by the same socialists who threaten unborn life in the womb, who threaten First Amendment rights of Conservatives, who threaten Second Amendment protections of every American patriot, and who have long ago determined that they would organize and conspire to overthrow President Trump.”
“We don’t face this horror because the Democrats have all of a sudden become constitutionalists. We are not being devoured from within because of some surreal assertion of the socialists’ newfound love for the very flag that they trod upon.”
“They are deep established D.C.,” he continued.
“They call this Republican map flyover country. They call us deplorables. They fear our faith. They fear our strength. They fear our unity. They fear our vote, and they fear our president.”
“We will never surrender our nation to career establishment D.C. politicians and bureaucrats,” Higgins closed. “Our republic shall survive this threat from within. American patriots shall prevail.”
Meanwhile, in Michigan...
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Update 4: Just as we expected, President Trump has taken to Twitter to bash the Democrats as the House passed a critical procedural vote for the articles of impeachment.
“The evidence has to be overwhelming, and it is not. It’s not even close.” Ken Starr, Former Independent Counsel— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2019
In the end here, nothing happened. We don’t approach anything like the egregious conduct that should be necessary before a President should be removed from office. I believe that a President can’t be removed from office if there is no reasonable possibility that the Senate..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2019
....won’t convict and remove the President - Then the House should not be Impeaching the President in the first place. If this is the new standard, every President from here on out is impeachable.” Andy McCarthy @FoxNews So well stated. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2019
It looks like he's just getting started.
Meanwhile, the House Dems are getting pumped up for their big day.
The Impeachment debate is underway.— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) December 18, 2019
Heading to the House Floor to deliver remarks.
We will IMPEACH this President.
The Constitution is sacredly obligatory upon all.
Finally, right around noon on Wednesday, the House voted to begin debate on the articles of impeachment, clearing a key procedural vote that paved the way for six hours of debate, according to the New York Times.
Pelosi kicked off the debate by urging lawmakers to honor their oaths to protect the Constitution while criticizing the president's supposedly reckless actions that brought them to this point.
“Our founder’s vision of a republic is under threat from actions from the White House,” she said somberly, adding, “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.”
When she finished, her fellow Dems rose from their seats for a standing ovation.
On the Republican side, Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, was the first Republican to respond, accusing the Dems of running an unfair and deeply partisan impeachment inquiry...
"This is an impeachment based on presumption," Mr. Collins said. "This is a poll-tested impeachment about what actually sells to the American people. Today is going to be a lot of things. What it is not is fair. What it is not is about the truth."
...While failing to prove their case against Trump.
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Update 3: And so it begins...
The House is first expected to pass a resolution to kick off six hours of floor debate on the articles. The time will be split equally between Republicans and Democrats.
The chamber’s 197 Republicans are expected to vote against impeachment, along with two Democrats: Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who has said he plans to switch parties.
Almost all of the remaining 231 Democrats have said they will vote for impeachment, along with Michigan Independent Justin Amash, who quit the GOP over his opposition to Trump.
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Update 2: As we expected, the tweet below has been reissued, with a few edits. It's classic Trump, as the president exhorts his followers to "SAY A PRAYER" on impeachment day, while raging at "Do Nothing Democrats" and the "Radical Left."
Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG! A terrible Thing. Read the Transcripts. This should never happen to another President again. Say a PRAYER!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2019
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Update: We 100% President Trump to go on a full-fledged Twitter rampage lasting until the last impeachment vote is cast on Wednesday, and so far, the president hasn't disappointed...although his first impeachment-focused tweet of the day has already been deleted for what we imagine are copy-editing-related reasons.
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The rules have been established, objections have been lodged and today, Wednesday, Dec. 18, with most of the US preparing for next week's holiday break, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is angling to finish the job, and finally impeach President Trump.
Though it means nothing to most of his supporters, as well as many Americans who simply haven't been convinced by The Democrats' arguments about how Trump supposedly violated the constitution, President Trump will almost certainly become the third American president to be impeached (and first since Bill Clinton) when lawmakers gather in the Well of the House for Wednesday's historic proceedings, according to Bloomberg.
Here's what to expect: After the House is gaveled in at about 9 am, lawmakers will debate for six hours before two votes are held: One on each article of impeachment. Trump is facing two charges: one is abuse of power, stemming from President Trump's alleged attempted "quid pro quo" with Ukraine involving the Bidens.
The other is obstruction of Congress, based on the administration's policy of advising White House employees and members of Trump's circle to ignore Congressional subpoenas by invoking executive privilege.
According to the Associated Press, Pelosi has the votes to impeach Trump on a purely party line basis. Many centrist Democrats, including several lawmakers from districts that supported Trump in 2016, have come out publicly in support of impeachment. However, neither the AP or the NYT were able to publish affirmative totals, suggesting that the numbers are still being firmed up, and that there might still be room for Republicans to fight back.
In a last-ditch effort to peel off as many Democratic votes as possible, Republicans are encouraging voters in districts that flipped to Democratic control in 2018 but voted for Trump in 2016 to flood their representatives' offices with calls demanding that they take a stand against impeachment.
As NBC News claims, it's these swing-district Democrats who made this whole thing possible.
And they might have a shot: As Congressional Republicans have repeatedly pointed out in recent weeks, the public is evenly split on whether Trump deserves to be impeached.
That means fully one half of Americans believe the president is innocent, and that the impeachment push is merely a politically calculated smear job.
Let's take a look at the latest polls, courtesy of aggregator RealClearPolitics...
Those numbers are even worse for Republicans: Roughly nine in ten believe the president shouldn't be impeached. Once it's been made official, Trump is expected to deliver a public rebuttal during a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, a formerly Democratic stronghold in a critical swing state that helped deliver Trump to the White House in 2016.
If we know Trump, we suspect that this rebuttal will be full of fire and brimstone - that is, if Trump's letter to Pelosi & Co. is any guide.
Interestingly enough, the last US president to be impeached, Bill Clinton, was formally accused of perjury by the House on Dec. 19, 1998, almost exactly 21 years earlier to the day.
After Wednesday’s votes, a Democratic delegation will formally deliver the articles of impeachment to the secretary of the Senate, the first step toward a trial in that chamber to determine whether Trump will be removed from office.
Then early in the new year, a trial will begin in the Senate, at which Trump is almost guaranteed to be acquitted, thanks to the Republicans' control of the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he hopes to carry out a swift trial in the Senate, limiting the number of witnesses.
As we mentioned earlier, the vote may not take place until late Wednesday - 6:30pm or 7:30pm - or even early Thursday.