December 18, 2019

In historic vote, House impeaches Trump for abuse of power, obstruction of Congress

Capitol Hill Building, Washington DC

The U.S. House voted to approve two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump Wednesday night. 

The House voted 230-197, with one voting present, on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power. That alleged that Trump used his powers as President to try to punish Joe Biden, a political opponent.

The House voted 229-198, with one voting present, on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress. That article alleged that Trump improperly impeded the investigation in a number of ways, including directing current and former officials to not comply with subpoenas from House committees.

It’s just the third time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached, after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Richard Nixon was facing almost certain impeachment before he resigned.

All three members of New Mexico’s delegation, all Democrats, voted to approve the articles of impeachment.

U.S. Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Deb Haaland each spoke on the floor in support of impeachment.

“Today, this President has forced us into a serious debate,” Haaland said. “We’re talking about a President who used the power of the presidency for his own political gain, risking our national security and putting the integrity of the next election at risk.”

Luján said it was necessary to impeach Trump.

“We have reached a point in time where our love of country compels action. Where our duty to this republic mandates that we do what’s right,” he said. “The president’s behavior is so blatantly wrong that ignoring his abuses of power would be abdicating the oath we made to protect this country and our constitution.”

“Today is a difficult day for our country. It was only after serious consideration that I decided to support impeachment and vote in favor of both articles,” U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small said in a statement. “This was the necessary response to President Trump’s use of the Executive Office of the President for political and personal gain. 

Torres Small represents the 2nd Congressional District in southern New Mexico, the most conservative of all three districts and one targeted by national Republicans in 2020.

A White House spokesman slammed the impeachment votes.

“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,” a statement from the office of the White House Press Secretary said. “Democrats have chosen to proceed on this partisan basis in spite of the fact that the President did absolutely nothing wrong. Indeed, weeks of hearings have proved that he did nothing wrong.”

Former U.S. Rep. and Republican Party of New Mexico chairman Steve Pearce criticized the vote. 

“The Democrats have been making up the rules and piling on the President from the beginning,” Pearce said in a statement. “The bottom line is this: the Democrats know they cannot beat Donald Trump next November, so they’re scrounging up this farce.”

Every Republican voted against both articles of impeachment. Independent Justin Amash of Michigan, who left the Republican Party over his support of impeachment, voted for the impeachment. Two Democrats voted against the first article of impeachment and three voted against the second. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii who is seeking the Democratic nomination for President, voted “present” on both.

The impeachment means that Trump will face a trial in the Senate. If convicted, which is extremely unlikely, Trump could be removed from office. No president has been removed from office by the Senate.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall said the House “had no choice” but to vote for impeachment “to hold the president accountable.”

“Now, it is absolutely essential that Senate Republican leadership allow the Senate to hold a full and fair trial, so that we can hear from relevant witnesses and decide the case with impartiality. Nothing less than the integrity of our democratic system and the rule of law are at stake,” Udall said.

“For only the third time ever, the House of Representatives has exercised its constitutional power to impeach the president,” U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich said. “It is now incumbent on each of us in the Senate to put country over party and demand a fair and open trial. We need to hear from all relevant witnesses and see all relevant evidence as we consider the severity of the president’s misconduct and weigh the articles of impeachment the House has presented us.”

Republicans hold a majority in the U.S. Senate and the Senate Majority Leader has said he’s working with the White House on how to handle the trial.

Both U.S. Senators from New Mexico expressed support for impeachment and called on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a fair trial in the Senate.

Update: Added a statement by Rep. Xochitl Torres Small.