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5 Things You Need to Know About the Trump Impeachment Vote

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:25 PM
W. E. Messamore
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:25 PM
  • The House voted 230-197 Wednesday night to impeach President Donald J. Trump for ‘Abuse of Power’ and ‘Obstruction of Congress.’
  • Zero Republicans voted ‘Yes.’ Two Democrats voted ‘No.’ One Democrat voted ‘Present.’ One independent voted ‘Yes.’
  • Here are five things you need to know about the historical and political context of the House impeachment vote – and what’s next.

1. The Trump Impeachment Vote Was the Most Partisan in U.S. History

This was the most partisan impeachment of a president in U.S. history. There were no Republican yes votes , and three Democrats voted “No”  or “Present.”  The Clinton impeachment and Nixon impeachment proceedings were more credible on the basis of at least some bipartisanship. Even Johnson got a more fair shake .

In 1998, five Democrats crossed party lines to impeach Bill Clinton. Nixon resigned before he could be impeached in 1974, but in the Judiciary committee, six Republicans voted to impeach on obstruction charges, and seven to impeach for abuse of power. By contrast, no Republicans voted to adopt any articles of impeachment against Trump in committee .

2. The Second ‘Obstruction’ Charge Assumed A Controversial New Power for Congress


The House impeachment vote wasn’t only an assertion of congressional power against the executive. The “Obstruction of Congress” charge represents an assertion of power against the U.S. judiciary as well. It rests on constitutionally shaky grounds.

The charge stems from the White House’s refusal to comply with subpoenas of high officials on the basis of executive privilege . House Democrats essentially just assumed to Congress the power to arbitrate its own disputes with the executive, rather than the courts.

3. Gallup Says Donald Trump’s Approval Soared and Support for Impeachment Fell Before The Vote

gallup trump impeachment vote approval rating impeachment support poll results graph
Source: Gallup 

Gallup published survey results showing more Americans were siding with Donald Trump than House Democrats  as the House began to debate the impeachment vote. Trump’s approval soared from an October low of 39% to 45% in December ahead of the vote.

Meanwhile support for impeachment basically flipped from October. Two months ago 52% were in favor of impeaching Trump, while 46% opposed it. By the time the House voted, 51% opposed impeachment and only 46% continued to support it. (Here’s why.)

4. The Trump Impeachment Vote in The House Will Certainly End in a Senate Acquittal

Impeachment requires a two thirds majority in the Senate to convict a president and remove them from office. With 47 Senators in the Democratic caucus today, it would take 20 Republican Senators to convict Donald Trump of the charges brought by House Democrats.

It might be fair to say such an event would be even more improbable than Donald Trump becoming president of the United States in the first place. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s not even going to pretend to be an impartial juror in the trial.

5. The Media Is Saying Democrats Have One Last Impeachment Card to Play After the Vote

The morning after the House’s Trump impeachment vote, the media are teasing one more card House Democrats have to play . The press is pushing the notion that a delay in sending the articles to the Senate will give the Democrats some kind of leverage .

This makes no sense. How is it leverage to delay giving something to Senate Republicans that they don’t even want? It seems instead like a way to squeeze out every last drop of suspense from the affair, and prolong the sugar rush from the drama now that the impeachment vote is over and nothing of any consequence is going to come of it.