WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives is taking a series of votes that will lead to President Donald Trump’s impeachment on Wednesday, making him the third president to be impeached in US history.
Lawmakers are voting on two articles of impeachment — one charges the president with abuse of power and the other with obstruction of Congress. The vote comes after several weeks of hearings, where witnesses testified that Trump put his personal political interests over the country’s national security by asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his family in exchange for US military aid and a visit to the White House.
Trump also directed members of his administration not to comply with the congressional investigation.
The House is first voting on the abuse of power charge and then will vote on the obstruction of justice charge. Nearly every member of the Democratic caucus has said they plan to vote for the articles, and no Republican has so far announced any plans to break with their party and join them.
As the impeachment votes began, Trump was preparing to take the stage at a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan.
The House spent more than 6 hours debating the impeachment charges on Wednesday. Throughout the morning, Republicans tried to delay the process, calling for a series of votes before debate officially began.
Once the debate kicked off, Democrats largely stuck to the charges against Trump, going over the details of his interactions with Zelensky and saying that impeaching him is both their duty and the only way to prevent the president and his allies from interfering in the 2020 election — even if the Senate won't remove him from office.
"When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to do something. Our children will ask, 'What did you do? What did you say?'" Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and civil rights icon, said on the House floor.
Lewis later added, "We have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history."
Republicans, meanwhile, compared Trump's impeachment to Jesus' crucifixion and Pearl Harbor. They also repeatedly brought up Hillary Clinton, arguing that Democrats were only impeaching Trump because Clinton lost the election. Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler had to remind Republicans, "if President Trump is impeached and removed, the new president would be Mike Pence not Hillary Clinton."
Later, Republicans held a moment of silence for the 2016 election, led by Ohio Rep. Bill Johnson.
Johnson said he was using his time during the debate for the moment of silence to give members “the chance to pause for a moment and remember the voices of the 63 million American voters that Democrats today are wanting to silence.” For 30 seconds, he and his Republican colleagues stood silently. Democrats did not stand but stayed silent as well.
After 30 seconds, Johnson concluded, “Disenfranchising 63 million voters gives me 63 million reasons to vote no and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”