PoliticsStacy M. Brown

House Panel Votes to Impeach Trump

House Democrats have had their say and history has been made.

After a marathon session that began Wednesday with the consideration of two articles of impeachment, The House Judiciary Committee gave its final approval on Friday to impeach President Donald J. Trump. Making Trump one of only three presidents in the nation’s history to share the same fate.

By a 23-17 party-line vote, the committee voted to impeach Trump for abuse of power. In the second article, the committee voted 23-17 to impeach the president on charges of obstructing Congress.

The full House will now consider — and is expected to pass — the legislation to impeach Trump which would ignite a Senate trial in January and will, ultimately, determine whether the president is removed from office.

Only three other presidents have faced impeachment in American history: Richard Nixon, who resigned from office in 1974 to avoid a House vote to impeach him, Bill Clinton, who in 1998 was impeached by the House, and Andrew Johnson, whom the House leveled 11 articles of impeachment against in 1868.

The Senate failed to convict Johnson and Clinton, and both remained in office.

The GOP-controlled Senate isn’t expected to convict Trump, either, and some leaders have threatened to not convene a trial at all.

The two articles of impeachment against Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — stem from charges that the president used the unique authority of the office of the president of the United States to pressure Ukraine’s then-newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, into announcing an investigation of the actions of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Trump is said to have ordered the withholding of vital aid to Ukraine, previously approved by Congress, denying Zelensky’s request for an Oval Office meeting with the president unless Zelensky agreed to conditions set by the president.

Democrats on the Committee, and several of the witnesses that gave testimony, maintain that the president’s request is inconsistent with the official foreign policy of the United States and amounts to a request that will directly benefit the president in his bid for re-election.

Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee attempted to block the impeachment vote against Trump by appealing the wording in the articles, and by trying to add amendments to them.

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio sought to remove language of the first article of impeachment and substitute words that emphasized what he said was an account of the Ukraine affair that underscored how Trump had done nothing wrong.

Another Ohio Republican, Rep. Steve Chabot, said Trump was innocent.

“There simply wasn’t a crime committed here and there shouldn’t be an impeachment here, either,” Chabot said.

Democrats shot back.

“There are no crimes here? That is the defense? How about the highest crime that one who holds public office can commit — a crime against our Constitution,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell of California.

USA Today noted that Trump appeared to have tuned in to Thursday’s hearing, lashing out on Twitter at Democrats Veronica Escobar and Sheila Jackson Lee, both of Texas.

He said the two women “purposely misquoted” his July 25 call with Ukraine’s Zelensky. The call, and other communications from the president and several members of his administration, sparked the whistleblower complaint that was a key impetus in the impeachment inquiry process.

Escobar likened the president’s call with Zelensky to a governor of a state calling a mayor of a town that has just suffered a natural disaster to offer disaster aid. During the call, the governor acknowledges that the aid is necessary and available. However, before the governor will allow the aid to be distributed, he challenges the mayor, saying, “I want you to do me a favor, though.” The favor, she argued, would be directing the local police chief to “smear” the governor’s opponent.

“Has there been a crime? The answer is ‘yes,’ and that governor would go to jail,” she said.

Trump responded, arguing the “favor” he mentioned during the phone call wasn’t related to him.

“I said I want you to do us (our Country!) a favor, not me a favor,” he tweeted. “They know that but decided to LIE in order to make a fraudulent point. Very sad.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pledged on national television that he’ll be in “total coordination” with the White House in development of the strategy for the impeachment trial.

McConnell, during an interview with Fox News, repeatedly pledged that he will be in sync with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, whom he met with privately Thursday, according to The Hill newspaper.

“Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this,” McConnell told Fox News on Thursday night.

McConnell added that he’ll be in “total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people who are representing the president in the well of the Senate.”

Still, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the articles are “very powerful.”

“We are not whipping this legislation, nor do we ever whip something like this. People have to come to their own conclusions,” Pelosi tweeted. “They’ve seen the facts as presented in the Intelligence Committee — they’ve seen the Constitution, they know it — they take an oath to protect and defend it. But they see the constitutional experts speak about it. They’ll make their own decisions. I don’t say anything to them.

“The facts are irrefutable,” she said. “The fact is we take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

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