Impeachment Could Be A Trap—For Democrats (#GotBitcoin?)
Everything about President Trump’s history suggests he likes a clearly identifiable enemy, and he likes a fight. Impeachment Could Be A Trap—For Democrats (#GotBitcoin?)
Trump Is Personally Humiliated By Being Impeached
Donald Trump definitely does not want to be impeached and he feels humiliation over the black mark that will forever be associated with his name.
As reported in The New York Times, “But he nurses resentment over the red mark about to be tattooed on his page in the history books as only the third president in American history to be impeached. No matter what some of his critics say, advisers said he genuinely does not want to be impeached, viewing it as a personal humiliation. Even in private, he accepts no blame and expresses no regret, but he rails against the enemies he sees all around him.”
For those who think that impeachment is worthless, Donald Trump doesn’t agree. Beyond the partisanship is the fact that for the rest of history, when the Trump presidency is discussed, and it is a pretty safe bet that it won’t be talked about often, the term impeached will be beside Donald Trump’s name.
Trump could have easily avoided impeachment by not abusing his power to try to get foreign election interference to help him in 2020. Impeachment wasn’t forced on Donald Trump by others. Trump brought impeachment on to himself.
Donald Trump is humiliated by impeachment. The Senate outcome doesn’t matter. Trump has felt the sting of punishment for his abuse of power and obstruction. Impeachment is already a success because this president is being held accountable.
What if President Trump actually wants Democrats to try to impeach him?
OK, so that isn’t likely. Nobody would wish to go through the embarrassment of impeachment in the House of Representatives and the public spectacle of a follow-up trial in the Senate.
Still, the fact that the idea would even seem plausible illustrates the risks Democrats are running in considering a move toward impeachment. The backfire potential is large. It’s telling that the Democrats who lived through the last impeachment—and remember how that movie ended—are the least eager to move down that path now.
Everything about Mr. Trump’s history—before and since assuming the presidency—suggests he likes a clearly identifiable enemy, and he likes a fight. He is the famously self-proclaimed counter-puncher, defining himself by those with whom he is battling and distinguishing himself by the way he conducts the battle. In an impeachment fight, he could do exactly that.
It’s illuminating to look at how Mr. Trump summarized the situation in an off-the-cuff remark at the White House on Friday. “Democrats are obsessed with hoaxes, delusions and witch hunts,” he said. “We can play the game just as well or better than they do.”
In sum, Mr. Trump appears ready to portray himself as both a victim of his enemies, and the pursuer of them, in any impeachment battle.
In such a scenario, Mr. Trump would have the opportunity to offer to his base—and for the president, it’s all about that base—the ultimate proof of the ultimate conspiracy theory: That the whole investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections was, from the beginning, a pretense to bring him down.
One of the mysteries of the president’s political calculus remains why he exerts almost no effort trying to expand that base, which is a minority of the country and, it would seem, simply not enough to give him a re-election victory in 2020. Perhaps, though, the calculation is that his voters will care a lot more about stopping any impeachment effort than Democratic voters will care about pursuing one.
If that’s the case, the intensity edge will be on his side in an impeachment fight, and that will translate into a similar advantage in the 2020 presidential election. And perhaps, in a close election, intensity can overcome the raw numbers.
That thought leads to the broader, underlying risk for Democrats if they pursue impeachment: What if average voters just don’t care as much about the Russian interference/Mueller investigation saga as do Democratic party activists and the political intelligentsia in Washington? What if they think the fight is just too damaging to the country?
Moreover, if Washington’s conversation becomes all about impeachment, nothing else will get done. The calendar will turn to 2020, and Democrats will have fewer substantive accomplishments to tout after two years in control of the House. Meanwhile, it appears Mr. Trump will have a solid economy to tout.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi already is complaining, justifiably, that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans in the Senate are simply ignoring legislation the Democratic-controlled House has sent on to them: election reform, net neutrality, violence against women and gun-background checks. Yet the effort to draw attention to those substantive Democratic actions would be drowned in an impeachment fight.
Mrs. Pelosi and her Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, are set to meet with Mr. Trump on Tuesday to talk about ginning up some big federal money to spend on improving America’s infrastructure. That’s an issue where they might lure Mr. Trump into cooperating. But that opening also figures to close rapidly amidst an impeachment battle.
Some Democrats believe they have a constitutional and civic duty to pursue impeachment regardless of the political calculations. Still, there’s no escaping a practical math problem. A president can be impeached with a majority vote in the House, which probably is achievable under Democratic control there. But then, two-thirds of the Senate would have to vote to convict the president. That’s 67 Senators. There currently are 45 Democrats and two independents leaning Democratic in the Senate, meaning there would need to be 20 Republicans voting to convict Mr. Trump. Can anybody imagine that happening?
This is where history comes into play. Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer were around to watch Republicans try to pull off this play against President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. The country was sufficiently unimpressed that Republicans actually lost seats in the House amidst the impeachment fight.
Mr. Clinton was impeached in the House anyway, but then as now with Mr. Trump, there weren’t enough votes in the Senate to convict him. He survived. The man who lost his job in the process was his main pursuer, Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Mr. Clinton finished his term with a 66% job-approval rating. For the impeachers, it was not a happy ending.
Pelosi Announces Impeachment Inquiry of President Trump
President’s dealings with Ukraine spur more lawmakers to back his removal.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would move ahead with an “official” impeachment effort after reports that President Trump withheld aid to Ukraine while he was pressing the country to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son.
After months of resisting an impeachment investigation, Mrs. Pelosi said at the end of a day of meetings with House Democrats that she was directing six House committees already investigating Mr. Trump to continue their probes “under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.”
“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” said Mrs. Pelosi (D., Calif.), who has expressed concern about the political risks of impeachment.
Her chosen route avoids a full House floor vote on opening a probe, a step that has occurred each of the three previous times the House has launched impeachment proceedings against a president. Such a resolution would require 218 votes to pass; as of Tuesday evening, after several Democrats said they were joining the cause, there were more than 190 lawmakers who publicly supported moving forward on impeachment.
The move is a culmination of what has been a nearly yearlong debate among Democrats about how hard to push for Mr. Trump’s removal from office, particularly since they took control of the House this year. Earlier, Democrats’ focus was on Mr. Trump’s campaign ties to Russia, the subject of a special counsel report earlier this year, among other issues involving the president.
Now, some lawmakers are arguing that the Republican president using his position to pressure a foreign entity to investigate a political opponent for his own gain is an impeachable offense.
Mrs. Pelosi’s decision also represents a bet that voters, whom polls have shown to be wary of impeachment, can be persuaded once more facts emerge.
“The dam has broken because this is a form of betrayal of his presidential oath and national security that is taking place in real time,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D., Md.), who supports an impeachment inquiry. “Trump’s not just a candidate now, he’s president of the United States.”
Mr. Trump, tweeting from his home in Trump Tower in New York City after his appearance at the United Nations, called the inquiry “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”
Earlier Tuesday, Mr. Trump called the allegations a “witch hunt,” repeating a refrain that he frequently used to describe the nearly two-year-old probe of his campaign’s dealings with Russia.
Mr. Trump said he approved the Wednesday release of a transcript of a July call with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he repeatedly pressed his Ukrainian counterpart for a probe of the Bidens. But Democrats are seeking the release of a full whistleblower complaint made to the inspector general of the intelligence community that includes the July phone call and has become the subject of an unusual standoff.
The White House is preparing to allow the whistleblower complaint to be turned over to Congress by the end of the week, according to a person familiar with the matter. The complaint must first be declassified, the person said.
Mrs. Pelosi’s statement came after a meeting with all Democratic House lawmakers to discuss how to handle the Ukraine matter. After the meeting, more Democrats joined the speaker in backing an impeachment inquiry, though some members wanted to see the whistleblower report and learn more about Mr. Trump’s interactions with Mr. Zelensky.
“We need the whistleblower complaint, we need to know what the whistleblower has to say,” said Rep. Susan Wild (D., Pa.). “You don’t just proceed to a trial without having the facts. But these are very, very serious allegations.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) on Tuesday asked the whistleblower to speak to the Intelligence Committee on a voluntary basis on Thursday. He said he would arrange a format that would ensure the whistleblower’s privacy.
Mrs. Pelosi has been reluctant to move toward impeachment, saying she would prefer to defeat Mr. Trump at the ballot box in 2020. She spent the weekend and Monday making calls to on-the-fence Democrats and her allies, taking the temperature on where members stood.
Reports of Mr. Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine spurred Mrs. Pelosi to act. The president asked his acting chief of staff to place a hold on $391 million in aid to Ukraine more than a week before a July phone call in which the president urged his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Mr. Biden’s son, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have argued, without evidence, that the then-vice president’s anticorruption push in Ukraine was designed to head off an investigation of a company for which his son, Hunter Biden, was a board member. Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s prosecutor general at the time, said earlier this year he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden or his son.
Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that he held up aid to Ukraine over frustration with Europe’s level of contributions to the country. A day earlier, he suggested there was a link between his delay of aid to Ukraine and what he said were concerns about corruption in the country.
On Capitol Hill, two significant groups backed an impeachment investigation on Monday, leading to the shift in the caucus: Democratic lawmakers in competitive districts that Mr. Trump won in 2016; and close allies of Mrs. Pelosi, who had been watching for her lead, such as Reps. Debbie Dingell of Michigan and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.
Prominent Rep. John Lewis (D., Ga.), long seen as a bellwether on impeachment in the House, got behind the effort Tuesday, saying that “the time to begin impeachment proceedings against this president has come.”
The House Judiciary Committee will take the lead on the inquiry, said a person familiar with the matter. The panel is already investigating the president over allegations in former special counsel Robert Mueller ’s report that Mr. Trump obstructed justice while being investigated over campaign links to Russia in the 2016 election. Mr. Trump has denied any obstruction or any connection to Russia.
Three House Democratic committee chairmen on Tuesday pressed their case against the White House in light of the new reports about Mr. Trump asking for a delay in aid to Ukraine. Without directly using the word “impeachment,” Mr. Schiff, along with Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) warned that the president’s conduct, as described in news reports, may meet standards that many Democrats see as a bar for determining that Mr. Trump had engaged in behavior that would justify his removal from office.
“If the recent reports are accurate, it means the President raised with a foreign leader pursuing investigations related to a political opponent in an upcoming election. That is the very definition of corrupt abuse of power,” the three chairmen wrote.
The Democratic-controlled House needs a simple majority to impeach the president. If Mr. Trump is impeached in the House, the matter would move to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it would face long odds of conviction by the necessary two-thirds supermajority. No Republican senators support removing the president from office, and many have shrugged off the president’s actions concerning Ukraine.
At his regular Tuesday afternoon news conference, a reporter asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell what he would do if there were to be articles of impeachment regarding the president sent over from the House.
“Wait a minute. What we have here is an allegation related to the Ukrainian aid by whistleblower that’s about all we know now,” Mr. McConnell said, later adding: “I’m not going to address all these various hypotheticals that have been aired out about what may or may not happen in the House. And I think all of that is quite premature.”
Trump Opens Door To Cooperate With House Impeachment Probe
Biden, campaigning in New Hampshire, joins other Democrats in calling for impeachment.
President Trump said he would participate in the House impeachment probe if the investigation was authorized by a House vote and if Democrats commit to following rules he views as fair, a sign of potential cooperation a day after the White House said the inquiry was unconstitutional.
Asked if he would participate in the proceedings if the House voted and followed the same rules as when Congress has previously charged sitting presidents with wrongdoing, Mr. Trump said, “Yes, if the rules are fair.”
“If Republicans get a fair shake,” he said.
Mr. Trump’s remarks Wednesday in the West Wing added a caveat to the White House’s eight-page letter a day earlier that described the president’s broader refusal to cooperate with the investigation, citing the lack of a vote authorizing the probe amid other purported shortcomings. The letter followed a decision from the White House to block testimony of a key witness in the investigation.
The comments marked the first time the president outlined specific conditions for his participation, putting pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) to respond as the two leaders battle over how to proceed over an impeachment inquiry that stems from the Republican president’s dealings with Ukraine.
Democrats are investigating Mr. Trump’s effort to have Ukraine probe former Vice President Joe Biden, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, and other election-related matters. Mr. Biden called Wednesday for Mr. Trump to be impeached, joining nearly all of his fellow Democratic candidates.
The House inquiry focuses on Mr. Trump’s efforts to press the president of Ukraine on the subject in a July 25 phone call. The call, and the events leading up to it, were the focus of a whistleblower complaint by an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency who alleged that Mr. Trump abused his power by targeting political rivals.
Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing related to Ukraine and called the impeachment effort a “kangaroo court.”
The president hired former Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy to represent him, bolstering his legal team’s ranks. Mr. Gowdy, who had been a prosecutor in South Carolina, retired from the House in January.
In the two weeks since Mrs. Pelosi announced the House had officially begun impeachment proceedings, Republicans have criticized her for skipping a House-wide vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry, breaking with precedent. Before Congress went on its recess, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the chamber’s Republican leader, had forced a vote on the matter that went down in defeat when Democrats voted to table his resolution.
Mrs. Pelosi has rejected demands for a formal House vote, saying it isn’t required for the investigation.
There is some support among Democrats for a vote to begin an inquiry. Rep. John Garamendi (D., Calif.) said Tuesday on CNN that the House should formally open impeachment proceedings with a vote, to put the full weight of the House behind the effort.
During the Nixon and Clinton impeachment inquiries, the House adopted impeachment procedures that allowed the president’s attorneys to attend all impeachment-related sessions, review all the evidence and cross-examine any witnesses.
Mr. Trump and his Republican allies have been arguing that they ought to get the same consideration in the probe being conducted by the House under Mrs. Pelosi. So far much of that investigation has been conducted in closed session without Mr. Trump’s attorneys present. Aides have said the hearings behind closed doors are to allow witnesses to discuss classified material, which is common practice.
Democratic leadership aides said Wednesday the president’s comments don’t give them confidence that he would comply and pointed to the White House’s letter from Tuesday. Democratic leaders have said that White House obstruction could be considered an impeachable offense and have noted that the administration has failed to cooperate with a variety of congressional probes.
Mr. Trump said Wednesday that no White House officials had ever expressed concern about his handling of the July 25 call. The whistleblower has said that at least one White House official was alarmed by Mr. Trump’s behavior on the call and that the transcript of the conversation was moved to a secret server in a breach of protocol.
The president said Wednesday he didn’t know why the transcript, which he has since declassified, was given additional security. “I assume it was for leaks,” he said.
Democrats have become increasingly unified around impeachment, with most House lawmakers and presidential candidates backing the inquiry.
A vote on impeachment would force Democratic lawmakers to take a clear side as the president runs for re-election. Of the 235 Democrats in the 433-member House, fewer than 10 haven’t come out in support of the impeachment inquiry. There are 31 House Democratic lawmakers defending districts that Mr. Trump won in 2016. To take back the majority, House Republicans must net 19 seats.
Mr. Biden, who was in New Hampshire Wednesday, said Mr. Trump had obstructed justice by refusing to comply with congressional inquiries and had committed impeachable acts in plain sight.
“In full view of the world and the American people, Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts,” Mr. Biden said. “To preserve our constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached.”
Mr. Trump, in a tweet, called Mr. Biden’s comments pathetic and wrote: “I did nothing wrong.” Later, he attributed Mr. Biden’s decision to come out in favor of impeachment to his standing in national polls, where he is now neck and neck with a surging Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.).
“You know he didn’t say that until right now, and he sees what’s happening to him,” Mr. Trump said. “I guess he’s no longer the front-runner.”
Before Wednesday’s address, Mr. Biden had faced calls within his party to offer a more confrontational approach to Mr. Trump as House Democrats seek to build momentum toward impeachment.
House Democrats on Wednesday sent a letter to Fiona Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council, asking her to appear Monday for a deposition in relation to the impeachment inquiry, a person familiar with the matter said. It couldn’t be determined if Ms. Hill, who didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, would attend.
Trump In A Landslide? This Historically Accurate Model Predicts Exactly That
President Donald Trump has a love/hate relationship with polls, surveys and predictions. He loves the ones that paint him in a positive light, and, of course, he hates all those “fake” ones that don’t.
He’s going to absolutely adore this one.
According to Moody’s Analytics, Trump is headed toward another four years in the White House. And, if the numbers are right, it won’t even be close.
In fact, his Electoral College victory could very well be wider than the 304-227 margin he enjoyed over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
Since 1980, Moody’s has managed to nail the outcome every time but once — it didn’t see 2016 coming. Here’s the Moody’s track record:
Will it return to its winning ways? The team takes into account how consumers feel about their finances, the performance of the stock market SPX, +1.00% and their job prospects. Essentially, today, they’re feeling pretty good.
“Under the current Moody’s Analytics baseline economic outlook, which does not forecast any recession, the 2020 election looks like Trump’s to lose,” the authors wrote. “Democrats can still win if they are able to turn out the vote at record levels, but, under normal turnout conditions, the president is projected to win.”
Moody’s uses three models to come up with its forecast. In each case, Trump gets at least 289 Electoral College votes.
The “pocketbook” measure, which focus on how people feel about their money situation, is where Trump shines brightest, grabbing a whopping 351 electoral votes. “If voters were to vote primarily on the basis of their pocketbooks, the president would steamroll the competition,” the report said.
The stock-market model gives him the slightest edge of 289-249, as investors continue to navigate a volatile investing landscape. Then there’s the unemployment model, which leans heavily in his favor at 332-206.
Pelosi Says Democrats Will Draw Up Articles of Impeachment Against Trump
The president ‘abused his power for his own personal political benefit,’ House speaker says.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she has instructed top Democrats to proceed with drawing up articles of impeachment against President Trump, a major step in their effort to remove the president from office.
In remarks Thursday morning, Mrs. Pelosi said Mr. Trump “abused his power for his own personal political benefit” and that his alleged wrongdoing “strikes at the very heart of our Constitution.”
The impeachment probe focuses on Mr. Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine to announce an investigation of a political rival, Democrat Joe Biden, as well as alleged interference in the 2016 election. Democrats allege that Mr. Trump improperly used the power of his office to boost his own political fortunes, and used nearly $400 million in aid as leverage.
“The president has engaged in abuse of power undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “His actions are in defiance of the vision of our founders and the oath of office that he takes.”
Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has said there was no quid pro quo involving the aid, which was frozen over the summer and then released in September amid a bipartisan outcry in Congress. He has called the impeachment inquiry a hoax.
“They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country,” tweeted Mr. Trump early Thursday. “Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair………trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business.”
If the Democratic-controlled House impeaches the president, the matter would then move to the Republican-controlled Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be required to remove Mr. Trump from office.
Mrs. Pelosi delivered her remarks from the speaker’s balcony hallway, a formal area in the Capitol that is also where the California Democrat announced the impeachment investigation.
She gave no details of what the articles of impeachment would focus on, but she alleged that Mr. Trump’s actions, if not fully confronted by Congress through impeachment, could affect the 2020 election.
Many lawmakers want to finish the House inquiry and vote on articles of impeachment by the Christmas break, though Mrs. Pelosi hasn’t set a definitive timeline.
In a tweeted response to Mrs. Pelosi’s remarks, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the speaker and Democrats “should be ashamed” and said the White House looks forward to a “fair trial in the Senate.”
House Democrats are debating the scope of the impeachment investigation and whether it will include special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Mr. Trump’s efforts to curtail it. Some Democratic lawmakers in competitive districts have said they would oppose articles of impeachment if the scope is beyond the president’s efforts to pressure Ukraine.
The Mueller report didn’t establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow’s interference, and didn’t make a decision on whether the president had obstructed justice. But it documented several instances where Mr. Trump tried to shut down the probe.
“We have to take that [Mueller report] into consideration,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D., Md.). “We have to explore the possibility that the Ukraine episode is not some aberrational outburst but rather reflective of a continuing course of misconduct.”
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D., Mich.) said she hadn’t decided how to vote on impeachment, but would oppose a “kitchen sink approach” that included Mr. Mueller’s findings.
The House Judiciary Committee said it would hold a hearing on Monday to receive presentations from Republican and Democratic counsels for the Intelligence Committee. Lawmakers on the Intelligence Committee earlier this week issued separate Democratic and Republican reports on Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, reaching sharply different conclusions about his actions.
The Democrats’ report accused Mr. Trump of soliciting election interference, while the Republicans said the probe failed to prove any wrongdoing.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking to reporters in Lisbon, offered a brief response to the report on the Ukraine matter prepared by the House Intelligence Committee, saying “it’s just all wrong.”
Mr. Pompeo wouldn’t address a specific question on House Democrats’ finding that he and other senior administration officials were knowing and active participants in Mr. Trump’s effort to influence decisions by the Ukrainian government.
The announcement by Mrs. Pelosi came a day after a Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday with legal experts, which was intended to establish the standards for impeachment.
Experts called by the Democrats generally agreed that Mr. Trump’s actions toward Ukraine met the constitutional threshold for impeachment, which is treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. That standard includes criminal activity but also covers a separate category of malfeasance involving offenses against the public.
The Republican-called witness, Jonathan Turley, of George Washington University Law School, said the Supreme Court has rejected what he suggested were boundless interpretations of bribery.
House Panel Approves Trump Impeachment Articles
Judiciary Committee, along party lines, tees up a full House vote next week.
The House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment charging President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, setting up a vote by the full House next week before the matter moves to the Senate after the new year.
The panel’s party-line votes Friday morning came after Democrats and Republicans sparred in an all-day debate Thursday over whether Mr. Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to start probes that would help him politically and then tried to block Congress from fully investigating the allegations.
“Today is a solemn and sad day,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.). “The House will act expeditiously.”
If the full House approves either of the counts in a vote expected on Wednesday, Mr. Trump would become the third American president to be impeached. The matter would then move to the Republican-controlled Senate, where the tally is expected to fall short of the two-thirds vote required to remove Mr. Trump from office.
House Republicans said Democrats had abused the process, suggesting it was illegitimate because of their opposition to Mr. Trump since he took office. “This is an outrage,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R., Texas). “It sets the bar for any president of any party for the future to go through three years of hell like this president.”
Mr. Trump, in comments to reporters, dismissed the committee’s vote, calling impeachment a “very sad thing for our country.”
Next week will be busy. The House must keep the government funded beyond Friday, when a temporary spending measure expires. It also may take up a rewrite of a trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, a priority for moderate Democrats seeking to show they can keep legislation on track even while trying to remove Mr. Trump from office.
Democrats have a 36-seat margin over Republicans in the House and project they will have the votes to impeach Mr. Trump, even with some defections. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) will need to keep in line many Democrats who flipped competitive districts in 2018 who may feel pressure from their constituents to buck the party on impeachment.
Democratic Rep. Sean Casten, a first-term Democrat who represents a Chicago suburb, plans to support impeachment, saying the “facts are clear.” But New Jersey Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew said he would prefer censuring Mr. Trump. “Look, the president made some mistakes,” he said. “I don’t believe they’re impeachable.”
Other first-term Democrats—including Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who represents suburbs of Richmond, Va., and Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who represents a swath of Michigan near Detroit—remained on the fence headed into the weekend.
Polls show Americans are split on the issue and that the monthslong impeachment investigation didn’t sway voters much. In a poll released by Monmouth University on Wednesday, 45% said Mr. Trump should be impeached and convicted, while half of Americans opposed Mr. Trump’s removal from office.
Signs are also emerging that impeachment could pose a challenge for Democrats in some battleground states in the 2020 presidential election. A Marquette University poll of Wisconsin voters released on Thursday found that during the first week of December, 52% of voters thought Mr. Trump shouldn’t be impeached, compared with 40% who thought he should.
Share Your Thoughts
What impact, if any, do you think the upcoming 2020 election will have when the full House votes on impeachment next week? Join the conversation below.
Mrs. Pelosi said Thursday she wouldn’t be twisting arms to get votes to pass the articles.
Democrats say that the underlying facts aren’t contested, citing in part a transcript of Mr. Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president in which he asked his counterpart to “do us a favor, though” and also to “look into” Democrat Joe Biden. Democrats have also pointed to testimony of Trump administration officials in alleging Mr. Trump withheld a coveted White House meeting and nearly $400 million in aid in order to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations. The aid was released in September amid a bipartisan outcry in Congress.
Republicans say that Democrats are reading too much into the call and that the witness testimony on which Democrats rely is secondhand. Mr. Trump has denied any quid pro quo and has said he was concerned about corruption in Ukraine.
The other article, alleging obstruction of Congress, was spurred after Mr. Trump blocked officials from testifying and prevented documents from being shared with Congress. Mr. Trump and his allies reject the obstruction charge, saying that all presidents have a right to keep information private.
House Votes to Impeach President Trump
Democrats and Republicans vote almost entirely along party lines; president denounces effort to remove him from office.
The House impeached President Trump in a momentous set of votes late Wednesday, making him the third president since America’s founding to face a Senate trial, and laying bare the deep partisan divisions on Capitol Hill and across the country.
Nearly all Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), supported abuse-of-power and obstruction-of-Congress charges against Mr. Trump in the wake of his pressing Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.
The chamber’s Republicans rejected both articles, saying Democrats failed to show that Mr. Trump had committed a crime and that they had managed a flawed process.
The votes followed a day of debate over Mr. Trump on the House floor. Mr. Trump, tweeted and retweeted dozens of messages defending himself starting in the early morning, and commented on the vote in the evening as he addressed supporters at a rally in Battle Creek, Mich.
“They’re the ones that should be impeached,” Mr. Trump said of Democrats, moments after the second article of impeachment was approved. “House Democrats are trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans,” he said.
The vote on the first article was 230 in favor and 197 against, almost entirely along party lines, with one lawmaker, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii), voting present. The tally on the second article was 229 to 198, with Ms. Gabbard again voting present.
Two Democrats crossed party lines on both votes: Reps. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota. Another Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, backed the first article but opposed the second. All three lawmakers represent districts carried by Mr. Trump in the 2016 election.
The matter moves next to the Senate for a trial, where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove Mr. Trump from office. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has said he sees no scenarios in which Mr. Trump would be convicted.
Earlier this week, Mr. McConnell rejected a request from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) to hear from four witnesses—including former national security adviser John Bolton —who had been called by the House, but were directed by Mr. Trump not to testify.
The impeachment resolution alleged that Mr. Trump pressured Ukraine’s president this summer to announce investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump politically, including by making $391 million in U.S. security aid against Russian aggression contingent on Kyiv going public with investigations. After Mr. Trump’s actions came to light, the resolution charges, he released the aid, but then obstructed the congressional probe into the matter.
House Democrats cast their action as a solemn constitutional responsibility and said they needed to remove Mr. Trump now before he could undermine the 2020 election by soliciting foreign interference.
“Our founders’ vision of a republic is under threat from actions from the White House,” Mrs. Pelosi said ahead of the vote. “It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice.”
Mrs. Pelosi announced the official impeachment effort in late September as details about Mr. Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine were reported. She had resisted earlier Democratic calls to impeach Mr. Trump, amid political risks for party members in competitive districts and the near certainty that the GOP-controlled Senate wouldn’t vote to convict.
Polls continue to show the nation divided down the middle on impeachment: A Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey released Wednesday found Americans split 48% to 48% on whether to remove Mr. Trump from office. Some 90% of Republicans oppose impeaching Mr. Trump and removing him from office, while 83% of Democrats favor it.
Republicans say impeachment is driven by Democrats’ animosity toward Mr. Trump, not by the facts of the case, and that removing him has been their goal since he took office.
“This was an impeachment in search of a crime, and they never found one,” argued House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.). Impeachment “cannot be based on a vendetta against the president the majority has pursued since the day he was elected,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.).
As the vote drew near, Mr. Scalise accused Democrats of hating Trump voters. Democrats booed.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) said Democrats aren’t impeaching Mr. Trump because they are bitter about an election. “We did not wish for it,” he said of impeachment, drawing Republican jeers. “We did not want it. However, the conduct of President Trump has forced our constitutional republic to protect itself.”
Chief Justice John Roberts would preside at the Senate trial, which is expected to begin in January. Republicans control the Senate 53-47, giving them the upper hand in determining the format of the proceedings, but Democrats are hopeful that they may be able to persuade some Republicans to side with them on requesting testimony.
“Our Republican colleagues will have to make a decision—do they want the truth to come out or do they want to be part of a coverup?” Mr. Schumer said in an interview.
At a news conference after the votes, Mrs. Pelosi raised the prospect of delaying sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate until Republicans there set trial rules that she considered fair. She also said she would hold off on naming impeachment managers, who would act as prosecutors, until she sees how the Senate planned to conduct its trial.
“It’s difficult to determine who the managers would be until we see the arena in which we will be participating,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us.”
Some Democratic lawmakers have approached leadership about a delay in sending the articles to the Senate, according to a Democratic aide. A person familiar with the proposal said it aimed to put leverage on the Senate to make concessions that Democrats want, such as witnesses in a trial.
Sending the articles automatically triggers a trial. There have been discussions on waiting until after the government is funded, according to the aide, and possibly until after the passage of a new North American trade deal.
Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) said he doesn’t see how holding onto the articles of impeachment would give Mrs. Pelosi leverage. “We don’t care whether they never come,” he told reporters, holding his hand up to his head shaped like a gun. “It’s kind of like, don’t make me do this.”
Mr. Trump has rejected the charges of wrongdoing for months, saying a controversial July call with Ukraine’s president about aid and investigations was perfect and revealed no wrongdoing, contrary to what Democrats have alleged. In that call, in addition to asking for an investigation of Mr. Biden and his son, Mr. Trump sought a probe into a theory that Kyiv interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.
A bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of a systematic effort by Ukraine to interfere, and U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously concluded in early 2017 that Russia intervened in the 2016 election.
In a raw and personal letter to Mrs. Pelosi on the eve of the vote, Mr. Trump painted himself a victim of liberals’ “Trump Derangement Syndrome” and accused the Democrats of attempting a coup.
At the Battle Creek rally, Mr. Trump celebrated the Republican unity in opposing the measures. “We didn’t lose one Republican vote,” Mr. Trump said to cheers. “And three Democrats voted for us.”
By focusing on Ukraine, Democrats pursued charges that were narrower than some in their caucus had hoped, leaving unaddressed instances of possible obstruction of justice detailed by special counsel Robert Mueller in a probe into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election. The narrowness of the case and compressed time for debate was in large part a political calculation, driven by a desire to keep in the fold Democrats from competitive districts.
Earlier this year, Mr. Mueller said his investigation didn’t establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. In his report, he said he decided not to reach a decision on whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice, guided by a Justice Department policy against indicting sitting presidents, but said he didn’t believe the evidence exonerated Mr. Trump.
Wednesday marked only the third time that the full House had convened to debate and vote on the impeachment of a president, and it offered a measure of the current partisanship of American politics. During the House impeachment vote on President Clinton in 1998, both Democrats and Republicans crossed party lines on the articles he faced, with two articles passing and two failing.
Ahead of his own impeachment vote, Mr. Clinton had apologized for “all I have done wrong in words and deeds.”
This time, Democrats and Republicans lined up almost entirely along party lines. Mr. Trump has demanded complete loyalty and seeks to be vindicated, not merely acquitted, and Republicans who have expressed doubts about his actions have often retired or left the party. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan left the Republican Party earlier this year after saying that Mr. Trump should be impeached. He voted to support both counts of impeachment Wednesday.
Similarly, the Democrats’ liberal base has long been demanding the removal of Mr. Trump, and impeachment quickly became the party line this fall. Among the 31 Democratic lawmakers in districts that Mr. Trump won in the 2016 presidential race—seen as the most likely to buck leadership—almost all backed impeachment.
The only two other presidents to be impeached— Andrew Johnson and Mr. Clinton—were acquitted in the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned ahead of his expected impeachment. In Mr. Clinton’s Senate trial, all 45 Democrats were joined by several Republicans in voting not guilty on the two counts.
The closest parallel to the impeachment of Mr. Trump may be to that of Mr. Johnson in 1868, said Steven Smith, a political science professor at Washington University in St. Louis. Then, a Republican Congress was broadly frustrated with Mr. Johnson for failing to adhere to Reconstruction policies, but ended up impeaching him largely over the narrow issue of attempting to fire the War secretary in violation of the Tenure of Office Act.
Now, Democrats are broadly frustrated with Mr. Trump, but are impeaching him on the narrower issue of his dealings with Ukraine.