By Gregg Re, Marisa Schultz | Fox News
The House voted to impeach President Trump for “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” related to his dealings with Ukraine after hours of heated debate Wednesday, making Trump the third American president ever to be impeached.
The separate votes on the two counts teed up an all-but-certain Senate acquittal, should House Democrats forward the charges to the GOP-controlled chamber. They also fulfilled a promise made by some Democrats ever since Trump’s inauguration to impeach him, even as polls have shown support for impeachment declining.
The vote unfolded as Trump was holding a rally on friendly turf in frigid downtown Battle Creek, Mich., where thousands lined up hours in advance — with some reportedly sleeping in tents beginning Tuesday night so that they could guarantee a seat.
“By the way, it doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached,” Trump said at the rally. “The country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong.”
WATCH LIVE: AS HOUSE VOTES ON IMPEACHMENT, TRUMP HOLDS DEFIANT RALLY IN BATTLE CREEK, MICH.
He went on to say that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Democrats had “branded themselves with an eternal mark of shame,” and were on a “political suicide march.”
“I don’t know about you, but I’m having a great time,” Trump said. “I’m not worried.”
“By the way, it doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached.”— President Trump, at Michigan rally as House voted on impeachment
The White House, in a statement, said Democrats had denied Trump “fundamental fairness and due process under the law,” and added that Trump was “confident the Senate will restore regular order, fairness, and due process, all of which were ignored in the House proceedings.”
“Today marks the culmination in the House of one of the most shameful political episodes in the history of our Nation,” the White House said. “Without receiving a single Republican vote, and without providing any proof of wrongdoing, Democrats pushed illegitimate articles of impeachment against the President through the House of Representatives. Democrats have chosen to proceed on this partisan basis in spite of the fact that the President did absolutely nothing wrong. Indeed, weeks of hearings have proved that he did nothing wrong.”
The vote total on the abuse-of-power count was 230-197, with Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voting present. The obstruction vote total was 229-198, with Gabbard also voting present on that count too. In a statement, Gabbard called for a censure resolution instead of impeachment, saying, “My vote today is a vote for much needed reconciliation and hope that together we can heal our country.”
“I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment 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,” Gabbard said. “When I cast my vote in support of the impeachment inquiry nearly three months ago, I said that in order to maintain the integrity of this solemn undertaking, it must not be a partisan endeavor. Tragically, that’s what it has been.”
No Republicans voted to impeach the president on either count, even though Pelosi had vowed earlier this year that impeachment would need to be a bipartisan effort to have legitimacy.
Democratic Reps. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota opposed the abuse-of-power count, and also opposed the obstruction charge. Peterson represents a district that Trump carried in 2016 by an eye-popping 31 points.
First-term Maine Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, who flipped a GOP seat in 2018, voted yea on abuse of power count, but voted no on the obstruction-of-Congress count. Trump also carried Golden’s district in 2016.
READ IT: TRUMP UNLOADS ON PELOSI IN LETTER, ACCUSES HER OF VIOLATING OATH OF OFFICE
In his closing remarks late Wednesday, which were punctuated by cheers from his colleagues, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., argued that Democrats “and many in the media” have long been trying to get rid of Trump for partisan reasons.
“After 3 years of breathless and baseless outrage, this is their last attempt to stop the Trump presidency,” McCarthy said. “Speaker Pelosi even recently admitted that Democrats had been working on this impeachment for ‘two and a half’ years. Those were her words, not mine.”
He added: “Will we let impeachment become an exercise of raw political power, regardless if it damages our country? Or will we protect the proper grounds and process for impeachment now and in the future?” he asked. “Because they lost to him in 2016, they’ll do anything to stop him in 2020.”
Debate on the articles broke down into a shouting match early in the afternoon, when House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., accused a GOP congressman of “spouting Russian propaganda on the floor of the House.”
Nadler’s unsubstantiated remark drew an immediate rebuke from its target, Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, who returned to the floor to shout at Nadler even as his microphone was turned off and he was not recognized to speak.
Gohmert had been arguing that Democrats’ partisan impeachment effort meant that the country’s “end is now in sight” and that he hopes he doesn’t “live to see it.” No House Republicans support impeachment.
At the outset of the proceedings, Pelosi claimed Democrats have “no choice” but to impeach the president, and that they were in reality quite saddened.
Despite Pelosi’s claim, photographs emerged apparently showing Democratic staffers partying on Capitol Hill as the impeachment debate went on. And, as McCarthy argued in his closing address, other top Democrats have long encouraged their colleagues to impeach the president — including Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who promised on video to “impeach the motherf—er” all the way back in January.
Sad day for Democrats?
Source on the Hill sends me video of staffers having a party in California Democrat Mike Thompson’s office, where it appears to be wine o’clock for staff
As he prepared to head to the Michigan rally, Trump voiced his frustration with the process unfolding on Capitol Hill.
“Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG!” Trump wrote in one of 45 tweets posted before noon. He asked his followers to “Say a PRAYER!”
Later, en route to the event in downtown Battle Creek, Mich., Trump told reporters he felt good.
In the morning, the House approved by a 228-197 vote the rule for guidelines for impeachment debate.
The impeachment proceedings represent a caustic partisan effort to undo the past election and influence the next election. I’m voting no.
1,3568:13 PM – Dec 18, 2019
However, House Democrats are now floating the possibility of refusing to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, where Republicans would likely present a strong defense of the president that could prove politically damaging for vulnerable Democrats.
Commentators said the strategy revealed, again, that impeachment was a partisan effort designed not to remove Trump, but rile up the left-wing base.
(All day Wednesday, the Senate was confirming conservative judges to lifetime appointments on the federal court, at an unusually rapid pace.)
No one ever expected Trump to be removed, thus impeachment was always a political strategy aimed at appeasing anti-Trump base before the election. Censure would have been smarter, but left flank forced Pelosi into a more contentious option.2056:56 PM – Dec 18, 2019
WITH TRUMP IMPEACHMENT VOTE IMMINENT, PRESIDENT TRAVELING TO BATTLE CREEK, MICH., TO RALLY THE FAITHFUL
Asserting that political calculations were the very last thing on her mind, Pelosi opened the debate next to a poster of the American flag saying it’s a matter of fact that Trump violated the Constitution.
“That is why today as speaker of the House, I solemnly and sadly open the debate on the impeachment of the president of the United States,” Pelosi said on the House floor. “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the President’s reckless actions, make impeachment necessary.
“He gave us no choice.”
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., swiftly shot back on the floor, “The president did nothing wrong.”
What followed was several hours of members on both sides of the aisle mostly repeating the same arguments for and against impeachment. Punctuating the debate was a series of parliamentary curveballs.
Shortly after the House gaveled in at 9 a.m., one GOP member forced a vote on whether to adjourn — requiring lawmakers to head to the floor before the debate even started.
“I just moved for the House to adjourn so that we can stop wasting America’s time on impeachment,” tweeted Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz. “Republicans stand united against this radical, vindictive, partisan sham by the Democrats.”
The ill-fated motion kicked off what proved to be a long day in the deeply divided House — and there were fireworks outside the Capitol, too. Several hundred people protested in the chilly December cold in favor of impeachment and removing Trump from office, following more than 600 anti-Trump rallies across the country Tuesday evening.
Immediately after Biggs’ motion to adjourn was defeated Wednesday, McCarthy offered another privileged resolution to condemn the way Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff and Nadler handled the impeachment hearings.
That motion set off another round of voting. GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., then stood up raising a “point of order” alleging the Democrats have violated the rights of the minority. The effort was dismissed by the presiding speaker Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.
More than an hour later, House Democrats finally moved forward on debating the rules of the impeachment.
“The evidence is as clear as it is overwhelming,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. “If a president undermining our national security and using the federal government for his own selfish personal gain is not impeachable conduct then…I don’t know what is.”
But GOP Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., shot back.
“If we’re really being honest, Democrats have been searching for a reason to impeach President Trump since the day he was elected,” Cole said.
Trump, emboldened by his virtually unanimous support from GOP members, sent Pelosi a letter on the eve of his impeachment calling it “an illegal, partisan attempted coup.”
“History will judge you harshly as you proceed with this impeachment charade,” wrote Trump.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Adam Shaw, Sarah Tobianski, Jason Smith, and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles.