US President Donald Trump was formally impeached by the US House of Representatives on Wednesday, December 18. As only the third president to be impeached in American history Donald Trump has cast the process as a “witch hunt” and unsubstantiated political persecution. He now faces a trial in the Republican-held Senate, which is exceedingly unlikely to sustain the judgment and remove Trump from office. The previous week Democrats had approved two articles of impeachment that charged the President with abuse of power and obstruction of a congressional investigation.

How Did Impeachment Proceed?

A simple majority was needed for these articles to be confirmed. Under Wednesday’s setup this was 215 votes. 229 Democrats and 1 Independent voted in favor of the abuse of power article.

As for the second article of impeachment, the majority was also reached handily with 229 votes in favor (228 Democrats and one Independent). All 195 Republicans opposed it, in addition to three Democrats. Congressman Jared Golden of Maine voted yes on abuse of power but no on Trump obstructing the investigation, leading to the one-vote discrepancy between the two votes.

Democrats Who Are Not Onboard With Impeachment

The Democrats who voted against one or both articles of impeachment are Representatives Jared Golden from Maine, Collin C. Peterson from Minnesota, and Jeff Van Drew from New Jersey. Van Drew had already announced before the vote that he will leave the Democrats and switch to the Republicans. In fact, Van Drew sought the President’s blessing for the move during a meeting at the White House on Friday, which might guarantee his reelection next year, considering the powerful boost that a Trump endorsement has given to Republican candidates in the past.

Meanwhile, Colin Peterson, who has been in Congress for twenty-eight years, has had a history of being one of the most conservative Democrats in the House. In order to win his district in rural Minnesota, one that Trump carried by 31 points in 2016, Peterson seemingly sought not to alienate Trump voters in his district. Moreover, Jared Golden, just like his two colleagues, also represents a district that was won by the President in 2016.

Tulsi Gabbard’s Refusal To Take Part

Another delicate detail that is likely to receive some attention in the next few days is Democratic Congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard’s decision to vote “present” in both cases. Gabbard said that she could not support impeachment “because removal of a sitting president must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country.” Gabbard, who has been persona non grata in the Democratic party for quite a while now, has kept her option for an independent run in 2020 open with her decision.

Republicans Slam Impeachment As A Disgraceful Sham

The historic vote had been preceded by an eleven-hour session in which Democratic and Republican members exchanged verbal condemnation, with Republicans calling the impeachment invalid and corrupt. The Democrats justified the opening of the trial against Trump as based on their obligation to protect the US Constitution. The Republicans accused the Democrats of acting on purely partisan grounds and having sought to remove Trump from his first day in office and cast his every decision in a negative and menacing light.

The highest-ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Doug Collins, accused the Democrats of only impeaching the President because they could not beat Trump in the election.

In the debate, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Democrat Adam Schiff, summarized the allegations against Trump once again, namely that Trump abused his office by forcing Ukraine to investigate domestic rival Joe Biden. “For this, and for his continued efforts to intervene in our election abroad, impeachment proceedings must be instituted against Trump,” Schiff said. The evidence against the president was “irrefutable,” according to Schiff, who further referred to Trump’s telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and testimony from senior diplomats and Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney.

The Democratic Party’s Position On Impeachment

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, opened the pre-vote debate with an appeal to the members’ consciences, as they all had vowed to protect the Constitution from foreign and domestic enemies. “If we do not act now, we will give up our duty,” she warned, adding that “he gave us no choice.” The president abused his office for his own benefit and was a continuing threat to the country’s democracy and national security, according to Pelosi.

Impeachment In Name Only

However, despite the now official impeachment, the scenario for implementing the decision in the Senate has not changed. The GOP will set the trial’s ground rules, just as Democrats have set the rules for the House stage of the impeachment inquiry. However, Democrats have already raised concerns that Senate Republicans could attempt to nullify the work done in the House. Following the impeachment vote, Democratic leaders did not say they would withhold articles of impeachment, but they also left that possibility open if no fair trial could be guaranteed. The latter could already indicate how the Democrats may attempt to end this political dilemma the only way they can still win it: blaming the Republicans to disrespect not only the process but the Constitution.

For Trump’s removal from office, at least 20 Republicans would have to vote against Trump, which remains inconceivable. Furthermore, the united front the GOP displayed yesterday has not increased the Democrats’ chances. Some commentators even believe the perception of political persecution may increase Trump’s prospect of being re-elected and strengthen him.

The Next Step Will Show The Full Democratic Strategy

All in all, the voting did not offer any real surprises. Even the defectors within the Democratic Party were somewhat anticipated. What died yesterday, however, was the idea that resistance within the GOP could emerge and join the Democrats in their fight. Nonetheless, the next days will show whether the Democrats are willing to accept the inevitable defeat in the Senate or will choose to escalate the political rhetoric and pressure on Republican lawmakers.