On the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, the Democratic Party completed its biggest 2020 election stunt – perhaps more of a “Hail Mary,” to borrow from football parlance – when it impeached the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.
After a day of debate, during which more than 200 lawmakers spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives, the chamber voted on two articles of impeachment. The first article, “Abuse of Power,” was passed by a vote of 230 – 197. No Republicans voted to impeach, while two Democrats, Representatives Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ), voted no. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) voted present. The second article, “Obstruction of Congress,” also passed along party lines, with the exception of Gabbard, who voted present, Collins and Van Drew, who voted no, and Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME), who also voted against the article.
Impeachment? What Impeachment?
As voting was underway, the president was speaking at a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he told the crowd: “[I]t doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached.” As the final vote tally came in, Trump proudly noted that not a single Republican voted for either of the two articles. “The Republican Party has never been so affronted,” he told an applauding crowd, “but they have never been so united as they are now.”
Over the preceding weeks, several of the Democratic Party’s most loyal media outlets had hopefully speculated that, faced with the supposedly overwhelming evidence against the president, some House Republicans would turn on Trump and vote to impeach him. Of course, those same outlets confidently predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 election. Some of them continue to predict that large numbers of Senate Republicans, at the coming impeachment trial, will vote to remove the president from office. Clearly, they will miss the mark yet again.
Rep. Gabbard described her “present” vote on both articles of impeachment as “a vote for much-needed reconciliation and hope that together we can heal our country.” In a statement, the 2020 presidential candidate explained that she was unable to vote to impeach Trump “because removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country.”
Trump is the third president in American history to be impeached. No president has ever been removed from office by Congress. Democrats have practically no chance of getting the two-thirds majority they would need in the Senate to convict the president. To achieve that mark, they would need not only every Democrat vote but also 20 Republican votes.
The Senate trial is expected to begin in early January, though Democrats have already signaled that they intend to at least try to commandeer the process, prevent the majority Republicans from conducting a smooth and speedy trial and, effectively, continue their investigation of the president on the floor of the upper chamber. Ironically, such conduct could rightly be described as obstruction of Congress – but, of course, no one is above the law – except Democrats.
Read more from Graham J Noble.