Trump created a bizarre split-screen moment by holding a campaign rally in a battleground state as the House voted to impeach him
Associated Press and Scott Olson/Getty Images
- As he stood on a stage in a state that played a key role in delivering him a shocking 2016 election victory, President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening officially became one of only three presidents in US history to be impeached.
- The president's raucous rally was a preview of what the country is in store for in 2020: a divisive, ugly election year.
- "It doesn't feel like we're being impeached," Trump declared close to the start of Wednesday night's rally. But in Washington, that's exactly what happened.
- The House passed two articles of impeachment against Trump: one accusing the president of abuse of power over his efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals, and another accusing him of obstruction of Congress in relation to his efforts to stonewall the impeachment inquiry.
- Trump will try to use GOP anger of his impeachment as a catapult to a reelection victory in 2020.
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Though it had been expected for weeks, the moment was not any less astonishing when it finally arrived.
While appearing before thousands of his cheering supporters at a campaign rally in Michigan on Wednesday night, President Donald Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives hundreds of miles away.
The president holding a rally for his reelection campaign in concert with the historic impeachment vote was a bellwether for the ugly, divisive election year America will stumble into in less than a month. The rally took place in Battle Creek, an apt setting for a night that served as a battle cry for Trump's supporters.
Trump's presidential resume will now include the undistinguished stamp of impeachment, but he will paint it as an indictment of all Republican voters by Democrats as he seeks to rile up the party with 11 months until Election Day.
Ahead of the vote, Trump on Wednesday tweeted: "THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!"
But no amount of all-caps tweets, nor a wild, 6-page letter of falsehoods and grievances sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, could stop House Democrats from marching forward with impeachment as they accused their Republican colleagues of choosing party over country and the Constitution.
"I think when the history of this time is written, it will record that when my colleagues found that they lacked the courage to stand up to this unethical president, they consoled themselves by attacking those who did," Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a central figure in the impeachment inquiry, said during the House debate on Wednesday.
After hours of debate, the House passed two articles of impeachment against Trump: one accusing the president of abuse of power over his efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals, and another accusing him of obstruction of Congress in relation to his efforts to stonewall the impeachment inquiry.
Trump has been accused by Democrats of soliciting foreign election interference by urging Ukraine to launch investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, as well as spreading a debunked conspiracy that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.
The president pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch these investigations during a July 25 phone call, which prompted a whistleblower complaint from a US intelligence official that ultimately inspired the impeachment inquiry.
At the time of the call, Trump had put on hold roughly $400 million in congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine as it contends with an ongoing, bloody war against pro-Russian separatists. Democrats have accused Trump of using the frozen aid as a form of bribery in his efforts to see Zelensky launch investigations that would help his reelection campaign.
Trump has remained defiant throughout the impeachment proceedings, denying any wrongdoing while refusing to engage in the process and offer a formal defense. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said there's "zero chance" Trump will be removed in a Senate impeachment trial that's expected to begin in early 2020. McConnell also said he'll be working in close coordination with the White House and Trump's legal team amid the impending trial.
He's the third president to face impeachment, but Trump could be the first to face such a historic political rebuke and still go on to win reelection. His approval rating is at 45% overall, according to the latest Gallup polling, and rests at 89% with Republicans.
With the GOP firmly behind him, Trump will now set off with the odd task of using his own impeachment to make the case for his reelection.
"It doesn't feel like we're being impeached," Trump declared close to the start of Wednesday night's rally. "The country is doing better than ever before...We did nothing wrong. We have tremendous support in the Republican party."
One chapter in the Trump-impeachment saga has closed, but it is far from over.
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