Trump impeached for abuse of power
Donald Trump has become the third US President in history to be impeached.
After more than 10 hours of gruelling debate, the US House of Representatives voted in favour of two articles of impeachment on Wednesday night, mostly along partly lines.
Three Democrats defected to vote against impeachment, while one Democrat voted present.
Mr Trump, who earlier told supporters to "say a prayer", was on stage in front of a roaring crowd at a campaign rally in Michigan as the historic vote was taking place.
The first article of impeachment - abuse of power for allegedly pressuring the Ukrainian President to investigate the Bidens - passed 230-197.
The second article of impeachment -obstruction of Congress for allegedly stonewalling its investigation - passed 229-198.
The articles will now move to the Republican-controlled Senate for a trial, where there is virtually no chance he will be convicted and removed from office.
Earlier, the President issued a remarkable tweet ahead of a historic House of Representatives vote on whether he should be impeached.
"Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG!" Mr Trump posted.
"A terrible Thing. Read the Transcripts. This should never happen to another President again. Say a PRAYER!"
He later added a quote which he attributed to Republican Doug Collins as he appeared on Fox and Friends, reading: "They just wanted to get at the president. They had no intention of having a proper investigation. They couldn't find any crimes so they did a vague abuse of power and abuse of Congress, which every administration from the beginning has done."
Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG! A terrible Thing. Read the Transcripts. This should never happen to another President again. Say a PRAYER!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2019
“This is all about convicting a President based on innuendo, not on the facts. Even the Ukrainian President said there was no pressure!” @RepMarkMeadows— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2019
Just hours later, Mr Trump was again tweeting furiously against the impeachment process, labelling it as "such atrocious lies by the radical left" and "an assault on America".
As soon as the session opened for debate, Republicans tried to halt it in the lead up to the vote.
"So we can stop wasting America's time on impeachment, I move that the House do now adjourn," said Republican representative Andy Biggs, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
He forced a roll-call vote - the first of several procedural efforts expected during the day to try to delay the proceedings. It was defeated on a party-line vote.
Republicans then tried to force a vote condemning the actions of Democratic committee leaders, based on objections to the way the Democrats conducted hearings leading to Wednesday's votes.
SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2019
Nancy Pelosi “feels sad” about impeachment only because she knows this Democrat scam is a generous in-kind contribution to President Trump and every Republican running against a Democrat in a Trump district. Too bad she’s too weak to stand up to the angry liberals in her party.— Sarah Huckabee Sanders (@SarahHuckabee) December 18, 2019
The vote caps months of investigation by House Democrats into whether Mr Trump leveraged nearly $400 million in military aid and a White House visit to coerce Ukraine to launch an investigation into Joe Biden, a 2020 political rival. He is also accused of obstructing Congress by stonewalling the House's investigation.
The entire House will be tasked with deciding whether or not Mr Trump committed "high crimes and misdemeanours" when it votes on the articles. The full House needs to approve the articles to officially impeach the president.
If that happens, he will go to the Republican-controlled Senate for a 2020 trial where it will be decided if he should be removed from office. A two-thirds vote is required to oust the commander-in-chief.
Sitting here in the speaker’s chair, all I can think is how serious this debate is for the future of our republic.— Rep. Diana DeGette (@RepDianaDeGette) December 18, 2019
The fact that I’ve been asked to preside over the House for this important moment in our nation's history is truly an honor. pic.twitter.com/Jt7x5L1DPC
For the first time in our nation’s history, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote to impeach a duly elected president because partisans in Washington want to reverse the will of the American people. The Democrats’ actions are dangerous and a disgrace to our democracy.— Rep. Roger Williams (@RepRWilliams) December 18, 2019
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that he would be "totally surprised" if there were the necessary 67 votes in the chamber to convict Mr Trump and signalled options for a swift trial.
Mr Trump is the fourth president in US history to face the prospect of impeachment for alleged misconduct in office. He will be the third to be impeached if the vote is in favour of it.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Mr Trump posed an "ongoing threat" to the country's security that left Democrats "no choice" but to impeach him.
"It is tragic that the president's reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice," said Ms Pelosi, launching debate in the House of Representatives on impeaching the US leader.
"What we are discussing today is the established fact that the president violated the constitution. It is a matter of fact that the president is an ongoing threat to our national security and the integrity of our elections."
The House Judiciary Committee last week formally approved the two articles of impeachment against Mr Trump. That vote passed along party lines, 23-17.
Mr Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and described the inquiry as a "witch hunt".
America remains deeply divided on the issue.
The charges and subsequent inquiry are based on a July 25 phone call in which Mr Trump asked Ukraine's new president Volodymyr Zelensky to carry out two investigations - which could allegedly benefit him politically - including one targeting Mr Biden.
He is accused of attempting to withhold a White House meeting and $400 million in military aid from the Ukraine as part of an alleged bribe.
During the call, the President asked Mr Zelensky to "do us a favour" and investigate the origins of the Russia probe, which by July had already ended, and Mr Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company.
Democrats say Mr Trump's use of the phrase "I would like you to do us a favour, though" when discussing military equipment with Mr Zelensky was proof of a quid pro quo.
President Trump abused his power to cheat in the next election, then obstructed Congress to cover it up.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) December 18, 2019
The only question is: Will Members honor their oath to uphold the Constitution?
History will remember the vote we take today. #DefendOurDemocracy
But Mr Trump said that's not what "us" referred to.
"Read the Transcripts! 'us' is a reference to USA, not me!," Mr Trump wrote in a tweet.
The requests came immediately after the Ukrainian President thanked Mr Trump for America's defence support and said his country was "almost ready" to buy more US military technology.
The Democrats claim Mr Trump then obstructed Congress by ordering current and former officials to defy House subpoenas for testimony and by blocking access to documents.
Mr Trump yesterday sent an extraordinary six-page letter to Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the Democratic-led House of Representatives, warning that "history will judge you harshly".
The letter came just minutes before Ms Pelosi announced the Wednesday House vote and accused the veteran Democratic politician of "breaking your allegiance to the Constitution" and "declaring open war on American Democracy."
"By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy," he said.
It repeated his claim that the entire case against him is a "hoax" and a "colossal injustice," and said Democrats were being driven in impeachment "by your most deranged and radical representatives of the far left."
Ms Pelosi sent a letter to Democrats on Tuesday evening urging them to join her on the House floor for the beginning of the debate.
"Our constituents look to us to be respectful of the Constitution and Defenders of our Democracy, and to proceed in a manner worthy of our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States," she wrote.