PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — President Donald Trump is now the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. The House of Representatives on Wednesday night voted to adopt two articles of impeachment — for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — with the votes mostly on party lines.
Some Democrats did deflect and vote no, including Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who represents part of South Jersey. Van Drew is expected to switch parties, which led to the resignation of several of his staffers. But not a single Republican broke from the ranks.
The charges that passed are that Trump abused the power of the office by enlisting a foreign government to investigate a political rival and that he obstructed the investigation that followed.
Trump is the third president, joining Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson to be impeached. But this does not mean the president will be removed from office. That decision will come after a trial takes place in the Republican-controlled Senate.
With the strike of the gavel, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — and a look to hush cheers from fellow Democrats — Trump was officially impeached under Article I for abuse of power, earning 230 votes in favor, 197 opposed.
Minutes later on the second article for obstruction of Congress was adopted with 229 votes. Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voted present on both articles.
Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden said Cory Booker both called Wednesday a “solemn” day for the U.S.
“President Trump abused his power, violated his oath of office and betrayed our nation. This is a solemn moment for our country. But in the United States of America, no one is above the law — not even the president,” Biden wrote on Twitter.
President Trump abused his power, violated his oath of office, and betrayed our nation. This is a solemn moment for our country. But in the United States of America, no one is above the law — not even the President.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 19, 2019
In a statement, Booker said Wednesday is a “sad and sobering moment for the country.”
“Three months ago, the House of Representatives embarked on a solemn path to gather the facts, uncover the truth, and uphold the rule of law — and what has been revealed is disturbing. We have been presented with alarming evidence that an American president abused the powers of his office for personal gain, compromised U.S. national security interests, and indiscriminately defied and obstructed the investigation into his misconduct.
“This is not a moment for celebration or glee but one that must be treated with the seriousness and gravity that this difficult chapter in American history demands. When I entered the U.S. Senate in 2013, I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and I’ll uphold that sacred oath as this process moves to the Senate for a trial. That trial should have no more important objective than a fair and thorough review of the evidence — and that means we must hear directly from the relevant witnesses and see the relevant documents. Trials are about following the evidence where it leads, and this trial must be no different.”
The three-month House impeachment process has uncovered alarming evidence that an American president used his official power for personal gain, put our national security at risk, and obstructed the investigation.
Today is a sad moment for our country.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) December 19, 2019
Philadelphian Rep. Dwight Evans, who represents the 3rd District, said, “It is with no joy that I voted this way, but — in my view — it was necessary to defend our constitution, which I swore an out to uphold. But today, the actions of the president have left me no other choice: I voted yes on the two articles of impeachment.”
“No one — Democrat or Republican — is above the law. All of us must be held accountable for our actions, including those who hold the most powerful office in the land,” Evans said. “The president must understand that Congress is a co-equal branch of this government and that he cannot simply do whatever he wishes as if he wore a crown.”
The historic votes took place and impeachment solidified as Trump was speaking at a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, unfazed.
“It doesn’t really feel like we are being impeached,” Trump said. “The country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong.”
Just voted to impeach President Donald J. Trump for abuse of power.
— Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (@RepDean) December 19, 2019
Immediately prior to the vote that impeached Trump was a full day of debates in the House between Democrats and Republicans.
“Our task here is not to judge the president himself. Instead, we must judge his conduct and whether his action has undermined our constitution,” Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon said.
“This isn’t about some crime that was committed — it’s about fearing that he might win reelection. That’s not why you impeach a president,” Rep. Steve Scalise said.
As the constitution outlines, an impeached president can still serve.
Next, the Republican-controlled Senate will hold a trial. Twenty Republican senators would have to side with Democrats to either convict or remove Trump from office. No Republicans are expected to cross party lines.
“Today marks the culmination of a highly partisan process that achieved a longstanding goal of many House Democrats: impeaching President Trump,” Pennsylvania’s top Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said. “It is my hope that the process in the Senate will be fair, unlike the process in the House where the controversial tactics used by Speaker Pelosi and Chairmen Nadler and Schiff broke with bipartisan precedent and denied the president the due process rights afforded to past presidents.
“In a Senate trial, House impeachment managers should be permitted to make their case, and the president’s lawyers should be able to make their defense. At the conclusion of these presentations, the Senate can then decide what further steps may be necessary.”
Pelosi said it’s unclear when the articles of impeachment will be sent to the Senate after the votes Wednesday.
“I could not be prouder or more inspired by the moral courage of the House Democrats,” Pelosi said.
House Republicans decided not to provide additional comment Wednesday night.
Two Democrats voted against Article I while three voted against Article II. Van Drew voted no for both articles.