The votes on Wednesday night (Dec 18) to charge the President with two articles of impeachment capped a highly partisan series of hearings and debates that will continue with a Senate trial to acquit him, or end his presidency by removing him from office.
The votes on the two articles of impeachment passed by 230 votes to 197 and 229 to 198. Underscoring the deep political divide in the US, all but two House Democrats voted for the first article of impeachment and all but three Democrats voted for the second, although Democratic presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard voted “present” on both articles instead of for them.
Mr Trump will be the first impeached president to seek re-election.
Only two other presidents have been impeached in the US’ 243 years of history: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both were acquitted in the Senate, an outcome that is likely to be repeated this time round.
At a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan – a state he narrowly won in 2016 – a defiant Mr Trump told supporters just after the House vote: “It doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached... The country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong.”
“The Republican party has never been so affronted but they have never been so united as they are right now,” he added.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement that the President was confident he would be fully exonerated in the Republican-controlled Senate, which would “restore regular order, fairness, and due process, all of which were ignored in the House proceedings”.
“Today marks the culmination in the House of one of the most shameful political episodes in the history of our nation. Without receiving a single Republican vote, and without providing any proof of wrongdoing, Democrats pushed illegitimate articles of impeachment against the President through the House of Representatives,” she said in a statement.
Earlier, under the dome of the US Capitol, in an over six-hour debate steeped in history and historical significance, Democrats and Republicans invoked the nation’s founding fathers, quoted the pledge of allegiance and drew parallels with previous impeachments and past wars as they took turns giving quick speeches that summed up their decision on whether to impeach.