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Donald Trump becomes third US President to be impeached by House of Representatives

A trial will now take place at Senate, followed by a vote. A two-thirds majority will be required to convict and remove President Donald Trump.

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New Delhi: In a historic move, the US House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress. After being established as a republic in 1788, this is only the third time a US President has been impeached. Before this, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached by the House in 1868 and 1998, respectively.

Trump was delivering a speech at a rally in Battle Creek in Michigan while the House voted on his impeachment.

“It doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached. The country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong, and we have tremendous support in the Republican Party,” Trump told the audience.

The impeachment

There was a clear split along party lines during the impeachment vote. The Democrats currently have a majority in the House.

The first article of impeachment — charging Trump with abuse of power — was approved by 230-197 votes. The second article — that charged him with obstruction of Congress (US legislature) — was approved by 229-198 votes.

“All Republicans opposed both articles, underscoring their staunch unity behind the leader of their party,” noted a Politico report.

This vote essentially means that the US’ lower house is recommending the removal of the President, but it does not mean Trump will have to necessarily step down.

A trial will now take place at the Senate (upper house), which would be followed by a vote. A two-thirds majority is required to convict and remove the President. However, since the Democrats are a minority in the Senate, Trump is likely to continue in office.

What are the political ramifications?

In the US political context, impeachment is considered one of the most unprecedented utilisations of legislative power. Thus, this provision has been used only thrice in American history.

When Clinton was impeached by the House in 1998, he made an “apology to the nation” for his misgivings.

However, in stark contrast, Trump seemed unfettered by the impeachment.

He tweeted out a campaign picture, where the text read: “In reality they are not after me, they’re after you. I’m just in the way.”

“Today, the US will impeach our President for only the 3rd time in history. In a maximally polarized and, accordingly, delegitimized political environment. It’s a terrible day for democracy,” tweeted political scientist Ian Bremmer.

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