This week, with just 318 days till the 2020 U.S. presidential election, President Donald J. Trump was impeached. On Wednesday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 230 to 197 on the first of two articles of impeachment, abuse of power; and 229 to 198 on the second article, obstruction of Congress. Trump joins a select club of three U.S. presidents who have been impeached.
The votes on both articles of impeachment were split down partisan lines, with all Republicans voting against impeachment; two Democrats (two different ones for each article) voting with them; the remaining Democrats and the lone independent voting in support of impeachment; and one Democrat, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, voting “Present” instead of choosing either side.
“I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing. 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.”
Some praise Gabbard’s courage, while others question it. Several Democrats who won their seats in Trump-supporting districts stuck their necks out and voted in favor of impeachment, despite the risk to their jobs come next election.
Tulsi Gabbard is right about the extreme and divisive partisanship of this impeachment process, however.
Weeks of heated debate did little or nothing to change anyone’s mind regarding whether Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses. Unlike with the previous two U.S. presidential impeachment proceedings, opinions were almost completely split down party lines.
Despite sworn testimony by reliable witnesses that Trump withheld military funds from Ukraine for a personal political favor, and despite the fact that Trump openly prevented the release of requested documents and blocked the testimony of White House staff who had firsthand knowledge of Trump’s conversation with Ukraine, all Republicans maintained that the impeachment inquiry was a “sham,” and that Trump did nothing wrong.
One must speculate as to why, if Trump “did nothing wrong,” he wouldn’t be glad to bring witnesses to testify that the conversation was “perfect,” as he claims. And with no real defense of Trump but flimsy, repetitive pseudo-defenses (“You just don’t like him” was one GOP refrain), as well as a battery of distraction techniques, one has wonder what’s keeping every last GOP lawmaker in such a lock step of loyalty to Trump and falsehood.
Following Trump’s impeachment in the House, the two articles will be sent to the Senate, who will hold a trial for Trump’s possible removal from office. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has already openly stated that he would not be impartial. As a result, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced that she will delay sending the articles to the Senate until the Senate will promise a fair trial.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, spoke out in support of Trump and criticized the Democrats for their acts of impeachment. “This is just the continuation of the internal political battle, one party that lost the elections, the Democrats, and are now trying to find new ways by accusing Trump of collusion with Russia. But then it turned out there was no collusion, this can’t be the basis for impeachment.”
Perhaps the Republican lawmakers in the House got their instructions and speaker notes from Putin.
Impeachment dominated the week, but this week also brought the final Democratic presidential debate of 2019. The list of candidates has been whittled down from the original 24 in the first debate to just seven who qualified for this one. Candidates who were onstage Thursday evening were Vice President Joe Biden; Senator Elizabeth Warren; Senator Bernie Sanders; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar; and businessmen Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer.
Assuming the Senate does not remove him from office, Donald Trump plans to run for re-election. With each demonstration of how deep Trump’s lack of integrity goes, his base seems to dig in their heels a little more in support of him. The rest of the world, however (except, perhaps, for Vladimir Putin), holds out hope that one of the Democratic presidential candidates will claim presidential victory in 2020.
Trump impeached in historic House vote | CBS This Morning [2019-12-19]
White House ready for ‘fair shot’ on impeachment in Senate: ‘We will prevail’ | Fox News [2019-12-19]