Donald Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached Wednesday when the House of Representatives passed two articles along party lines, although his removal from office in the Senate is highly unlikely.
One article, on abuse of power, alleges he solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 presidential election. The second article, on obstruction of Congress, says Trump directed the “unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate” defiance of subpoenas issued by the House.
Trump joins Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as the only presidents to be impeached. But like his predecessors, he likely won’t be removed from office during a trial in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.
The U.S. Constitution requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate – 67 votes in the current body – to remove a president. Republicans have 53 seats.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday criticized House Democrats for opposing Trump before he even took office.
“[Impeachment] was the predetermined end of a partisan crusade that began before President Trump was even nominated, let alone sworn in,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “For the first time in modern history, we've seen a political faction in Congress promise from the moment ... a president election ended, they would find some way to overturn it.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), though, urged the Senate to conduct a fair trial.
“Leader McConnell is plotting the most rushed … and most unfair impeachment trial in modern history,” Schumer said.
Trump would become the first president to run in a general election after being impeached. Johnson failed to win his party’s nomination, and Clinton’s impeachment came after winning his second and final term.
All House Republicans opposed both articles. The Democrat-controlled House passed the abuse of power article, 230-197, and the obstruction of Congress article, 229-198.
Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), the minority leader, argued that “because they lost to him in 2016” Democrats will “do anything or say anything to stop him in 2020.”
“That's not America. That's not how democratic republics behave. Elections matter. Voters matter. And in 11 months, the people's voice will be heard again,” McCarthy said.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) argued that Trump broke the law.
“What is at risk here is the very idea of America,” Schiff said during floor debate. “That idea holds that we are a nation of laws, not of men. We are a nation that believes in a rule of law. … No branch of government can dominate another. That is what it means to uphold the Constitution. If you ignore it, if you say the president may refuse to comply, may refuse lawful process, may coerce an ally, may cheat in the election because he's the president of our party, [then] you do not uphold our Constitution, [and] you do not uphold your oath of office.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Mark Wilson/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.