The 45th President of the United States, Donald John Trump was yesterday, impeached by the House of Representatives. The battle to remove the New York estate mogul, Trump, moves to the senate, where he is expected to be tried by Republican controlled senate. Analysts believe that Trump will escape senate conviction based on senate block support for him.
Mr Trump is accused of pressuring Ukraine to dig up damaging information on one of his main Democratic challengers for the presidency in 2020, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.
The impeachment process kicked off in September after a formal complaint from a whistleblower – an unnamed intelligence official who wrote a letter expressing concern about Mr Trump’s 25 July call with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
A rough transcript of the call revealed that President Trump had urged President Zelensky to investigate discredited allegations against Mr Biden and his son.
He is also charged for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power related to his dealings with Ukraine.
Democrats alleged Trump abused the power of the US presidency by organising a scheme to extort a promise from Zelenskyy for the investigation. At the time of the call, Trump was withholding $391m in military aid to help Ukraine defend against Russia.
In addition to withholding the military aid, Trump was conditioning a White House meeting for Zelenskyy on Ukraine announcing an investigation into false disinformation that Ukraine, not Russia, conducted the cyberattacks on the US elections in 2016, according to witnesses who appeared before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the investigation.
Following this development, the Democrats led house, triggered the articles of impeachment. Trump has become the third US president to be impeached. No US president has been removed from office via the impeachment process.
Democrats control the House 233 to 197 seats over Republicans, with one independent and four vacancies.
The impeachment process has deepened political divides in the US as the country heads for the 2020 presidential election. In a vitriolic six-page letter to Pelosi on Tuesday, Trump called the House’s impeachment drive a “charade” and a “colossal injustice”.
“You are turning a policy disagreement between two branches of government into an impeachable offence,” Trump said in the letter.
“I have no doubt that the American people will hold you and the Democrats fully responsible in the upcoming 2020 election,” Trump wrote.
In her letter to leading Democrats leaders, Speaker Pelosi said “During this very prayerful moment in our nation’s history, we must honor our oath to support and defend our Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic,”
Biden is a leading contender in the race for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. There has been no evidence of any wrongdoing by the Bidens.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing. The president and his Republican political allies have called the House’s impeachment inquiry a “sham” and a “witch-hunt” that was “rushed” and “partisan” ahead of next year’s election.
Analysts have described impeachment of presidents in US as exclusive club that no one wants to join.
In retrospect, after the Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, his vice, Andrew Johnson, who succeeded him fell into impeachment trap. He was impeached for undermining the cause of racial equality. However, Johnson remained in office after being acquitted in the Senate by one vote.
In 1998, the former Arkansas Governor, Bill Clinton was impeached because of his inappropriate relationship with the White House intern Monica Lewinsky; he was impeached for lying to a grand jury in a separate case, brought by a former Arkansas state employee, Paula Jones.
In response to a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Jones, Clinton denied in a sworn deposition and a later video interview that he had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky. That assertion was contradicted by a report submitted to Congress by independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who documented Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky in lurid detail.
The Republican-led Senate – stronger than today’s, with a 55-seat majority at the time – acquitted Clinton easily on both counts, with the closer case drawing only 50 votes out of 67 needed.
In November 1972, Nixon won re-election by what was then the largest margin of victory in the history of US presidential elections. But five months earlier, a burglary at Democratic offices in the Watergate hotel complex had set in motion a chain of events that would end his presidency.
In his investigation of the burglaries, special prosecutor Archibald Cox uncovered a dirty campaign to attack Nixon’s political opponents, financed by a secret slush fund and directed by Nixon himself. For months, Nixon publicly denied all involvement.
But an impeachment inquiry was opened in October 1973, after Nixon fired the top two officials in the justice department for their refusal to fire Cox. A fight over evidence ensued, including tapes of Nixon’s Oval Office conversations.
In late July 1974, a third of elected Republicans on the House judiciary committee joined Democrats to approve three articles of impeachment, for obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress. The release of a “smoking gun” tape a week later, fixing Nixon at the center of the conspiracy, sealed the president’s fate.
Under pressure from fellow Republicans, Nixon resigned on 9 August 1974, before the full House could vote on impeachment.