Hours after US President Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives, Trump on Thursday asserted that the move was against the people and not him, adding that he is "just in the way". Taking to Twitter, Trump posted a picture where he is pointing a finger towards the audience saying, "In reality, they're not after me they're after you I'm just in the way."
On Wednesday night, Trump became the third US president to be impeached on Wednesday, as he was formally charged with abuse of power in a historic step that will inflame partisan tensions across a deeply divided America. The Democratic-led House passed the abuse of power article of impeachment on a largely party-line 230-197 vote. The House then proceeded with a vote on the second article of impeachment charging him with obstruction of Congress.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2019
The House action sets the stage for a trial on January 2020 in the Republican-controlled Senate - friendlier terrain for Trump - on whether to convict him and remove him from office. As the House voted, Trump was addressing a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan. No president in the 243-year history of the United States has been removed from office by impeachment. That would require a two-thirds majority in the 100-member Senate, meaning at least 20 Republicans would have to join Democrats in voting against Trump - and none have indicated they will.
Trump, who is seeking another four-year term in the November 2020 presidential election, has called the impeachment drive an "attempted coup" by Democrats seeking to nullify his 2106 election victory. The Senate`s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, has predicted there is "no chance" his chamber will remove Trump when it holds its trial.
The first of the articles accused Trump, 73, of abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, as well as a discredited theory promoted by the president and beneficial to Russia that Democrats conspired with Ukraine to meddle in the 2016 election.
Democrats said Trump held back $391 million in security aid intended to combat Russia-backed separatists and a coveted White House meeting for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as leverage to coerce Kiev into interfering in the 2020 election by smearing Biden.
The second article accuses Trump of obstruction of Congress by directing administration officials and agencies not to comply with lawful House subpoenas for testimony and documents related to impeachment. Trump has denied wrongdoing and called the impeachment inquiry, launched by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in September, a "witch hunt."
During a day-long debate before the vote, Pelosi read the US Pledge of Allegiance and said: "We are here to defend democracy for the people." "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," Pelosi said. As the debate unfolded, Trump on Twitter called the proceedings "AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA" and on his party. On the House floor, Republicans accused Democrats of seeking to use an unfair, rigged process to nullify the 2016 election. "The matter before the House today is based solely on a fundamental hatred of our president. It`s a sham, a witch hunt - and it`s tantamount to a coup against the duly elected president of the United States," Republican Representative Mike Rogers said.
Republican Representative Mike Kelly compared the impeachment to the Japanese attack on Hawaii`s Pearl Harbor in 1941, calling the House proceedings another "date that will live in infamy" - similar to the words Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt used to describe the raid that killed about 2,400 people and led to America`s entry into World War Two.
(with input from Reuters)