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Trump becomes third US President to be impeached


WASHINGTON (AP) President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday night, becoming only the third American chief executive to be formally charged under the Constitution’s ultimate remedy for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The historic vote split along party lines, much the way it has divided the nation, over a charge that the 45th president abused the power of his office by enlisting a foreign government to investigate a political rival ahead of the 2020 election. The House then approved a second charge, that he obstructed Congress in its investigation.

The mood in the House chamber shifted throughout the day as the lawmakers pushed toward the vote. Democrats spun lofty speeches, framing impeachment as what many said was their duty to protect the Constitution and uphold the nation’s system of checks and balances. Republicans mocked and jeered the proceedings, as they stood by their party’s leader, who has frequently tested the bounds of civic norms.

The start of Trump's Michigan rally was delayed as the voting was underway in Washington but once he took the stage he boasted of accomplishments and complained bitterly about his foes for two hours, defiant rather than contrite. He called Pelosi names and warned the impeachment would be politically disastrous for Democrats. He has called the whole affair a "witch hunt", a "hoax" and a "sham", and sometimes all three.

No Republicans voted for impeachment, and Democrats had only slight defections on their side. The votes for impeachment were 230-197-1 on the first charge, 229-198-1 on the second. To mark the moment, voting was conducted manually with ballots.

Beyond the impeachments of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, this first impeachment of the 21st century is as much about what the president might do in the future as what he did in the past. The investigation of Richard Nixon ended when he resigned rather than face the House vote over Watergate.

Top Republicans, including Rep. Devin Nunes on the Intelligence Committee, called the Ukraine probe little more than a poor sequel to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Mueller spent two years investigating the potential links between Moscow and the Trump campaign but testified in July that his team could not establish that Trump conspired or coordinated with Russia to throw the election. Mueller did say he could not exonerate Trump of trying to obstruct the investigation, but he left that for Congress to decide.

The next day, Trump called Ukraine. Not quite four months later, a week before Christmas, Trump was impeached.

Photograph: AP Photo/Steve Helber

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