Margaret Valenti writes on the historic impeachment of Donald Trump by Congress on two counts — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — and the future of the partisan divide and Donald Trump’s Presidency.
Protests rose across the country as Congress prepared to impeach the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. The protesters called for the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, they called for Congress to do its job. People across are ardently in favor of impeachment despite the deeper divides it brings. Some are sick and tired of the whole ordeal and wish more than anything for it to be over or they are so blatantly against it that they have ignored the clear misdeeds of the President. Today, Congress voted on the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump, ending the divisive battle over impeachment, for now.
The Democrats — specifically Nancy Pelosi — put off this impeachment for a long time despite the rallying cries of the nation to do so after the Mueller report. Theoretically, the Democrats could have put more articles of impeachment on the table, specifically obstruction of justice, which is a very real and serious crime.
Fearing not only a lengthy legal battle but also further partisan division and higher disapproval ratings for impeachment, the Democrats chose not to compel testimony from those Trump prevented from appearing. Democrats were looking to end the turmoil our nation has faced over this impeachment by voting before the holiday recess.
Throughout the morning, afternoon, and into the night, Congress deliberated the necessity — or lack thereof — of impeaching Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Abuse of power because he tried to use the power of the presidency to coerce a foreign government into investigating a political opponent, Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden. Obstruction of Congress because Donald Trump made it clear that witnesses from the executive branch could not testify at the impeachment hearings, disrupting the symbiotic relationship between The White House and Congress.
The Impeachment of Donald Trump
Under the Constitution, each article of impeachment requires a separate vote by Congress with two hundred and sixteen votes needed to impeach a sitting President. There were fifteen minutes allotted for the vote on article one – abuse of power – and five minutes allotted for the vote on article two – obstruction of Congress. The voting took an extended amount of time since several Congressmen entered a “no vote” and later, after seeing the results, entered their votes following the end of the original time allotment.
In the end, the Democrats got two hundred and thirty (two hundred and twenty-nine Democrats and one Independent (Justin Amash)) in favor of impeaching the President based on abuse of power. There were one hundred and ninety-seven “nays” (one hundred and ninety-five Republicans and two Democrats), seven “no votes,” and one “present.”
Congress electronically voted on the second article of impeachment upon request of Jerry Nadler (D-NY) — obstruction of Congress, because Donald Trump prevented witnesses from testifying and refused to turn over documents to Congress.
The Democrats also got the necessary votes to impeach Donald Trump for obstruction of Congress. Overall, two hundred and twenty-nine votes impeached Trump for obstruction of Congress (two hundred and twenty-eight Democrats and one Independent (Justin Amash)). There was a total of one hundred and ninety-eight votes against impeachment for obstruction of Congress (on hundred and ninety-five Republicans and three Democrats). There were four “no votes” and one “present” vote.
Congress impeached Donald Trump on both articles, and he becomes the third sitting President in U.S. history that Congress impeached. Everyone expected this ending in Congress, but the Senate will be a different story. The Senate is not likely to impeach Donald Trump — which would remove him from office — since the majority in the Senate is Republican. No Senate trial in history has ever removed a sitting President from office via impeachment.
Trial In The Senate
Unlike the impeachment process in Congress, which the Constitution clearly defines, there is no clearly defined process within the Constitution for a Senate impeachment trial. There were only two earlier Senate trials for presidential impeachment: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. The process is likely to take another month or so, with a pretrial, trial, and then the verdict.
Already, many Senators are calling for congress to supply more evidence during the trial concerning Donald Trump’s impeachment. Multiple Congresspeople from the judiciary committee will present the evidence to the Senators during the trial. They act like prosecutors. During Clinton’s trial, a series of lawyers served as his defense. Considering Rudy Giuliani’s involvement in the Ukraine scandal, it is unclear who Trump will choose as his counsel.
Partisan Divide Increases
Of course, the Democrats are not the only ones who furthered the divide in the U.S. on Wednesday night. Donald Trump — The Great Divider — decided to host a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan on the same night which started right in the middle of the deliberations in Congress. The obvious intent of the President is to continue to stoke the fires of the public in his favor.
Many people say that Donald Trump is not a politician, but he certainly acts like one sometimes, and impeachment plays right to his base and enhances his access to the public through the media. By releasing that transcript, he forced the Democrats hand, leaving them no choice but to start the process of impeachment. Public approval for impeachment skyrocketed and in that moment the Democrats had no choice.
What he tweets and says about impeachment connects with his base, so starting impeachment, for Trump, exposes the corruption of the government, the root of everyone’s problems — the Democratic party, the radical left. He heads into the 2020 presidential race ahead of the pack because of airtime and articles written. He also has a base that will stick with him no matter what. Make no mistake, Donald Trump wanted this impeachment to happen.