WASHINGTON — The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to send two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate and approve House prosecutors for only the third impeachment trial in American history.
The nearly party-line vote moved Trump’s impeachment from the chamber led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, to the Republican-majority Senate, where Trump expects acquittal, even as new evidence is raising fresh questions about his Ukraine dealings.
The vote was 228-193, coming at the start of a presidential election year and one month after the House impeached Trump. Maine’s two Democratic U.S. representatives, Chellie Pingree of the 1st District and Jared Golden of the 2nd District, voted to send the articles to the Senate. Golden only backed one of two impeachment articles in December, while Pingree backed both.
The president is charged with abuse of power over his pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, using military aid to the country as leverage. Trump was also charged with obstructing Congress’ ensuing probe.
“We are here today to cross a very important threshold in American history,” Pelosi said, addressing the House before the vote. Earlier, she declared: “This is what an impeachment is about. The president violated his oath of office, undermined our national security, jeopardized the integrity of our elections.”
Trump, during an event at the White House, rejected the charges as a “hoax.”
The seven-member prosecution team will be led by the chairmen of the House impeachment proceedings, Reps. Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee and Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee, two of Pelosi’s top lieutenants for only the third presidential impeachment in the nation’s history.
Ahead of Wednesday’s session, Schiff released new records from Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, about the Ukraine strategy. including an exchange with another man about surveilling later-fired Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch.
Schiff said the new evidence should bring more pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who is reluctant to allow witnesses to testify but is under competing pressure from his party for more witnesses, from centrists who are siding with Democrats on the need to hear full testimony and conservatives mounting Trump’s defense.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is leading an effort among some Republicans, including Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, for votes on witnesses. Romney said he wants to hear from John Bolton, the former national security adviser at the White House, who others have said raised alarms about an alternative foreign policy toward Ukraine being run by Giuliani.
Later Wednesday, the House managers are to walk the articles across the Capitol to the Senate in a dramatic procession. The Senate trial is set to start Thursday. Republicans control the chamber and are all but certain to acquit Trump.
McConnell opened the Senate dismissing what he called a rushed impeachment that is more about the politics of Democrats who don’t like Trump than the charges against him.
“This isn’t really about Ukraine policy or military money,” McConnell said. “This has been naked partisanship all along.”
Trump’s trial will be only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, and it comes against the backdrop of a politically divided nation in an election year.
BDN writer Michael Shepherd and Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Andrew Taylor and Padmananda Rama contributed to this report.