Only two lawmakers - both Democrats - crossed party lines in what was the first formal House vote in the impeachment process. A total of 232 lawmakers voted in favor of the resolution, while 196 opposed it.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement on Thursday that President Donald Trump has done nothing wrong after lawmakers approved impeachment procedures in the House of Representatives.
"The President has done nothing wrong, and the Democrats know it," Grisham said in the statement. "[US House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment proceeding does not hurt President Trump... The Democrats are choosing every day to waste time on a sham impeachment - a blatantly partisan attempt to destroy the President."
What Resolution Calls For
The House resolution calls for public hearings, the release of transcripts from a series of closed-door hearings prior to Thursday’s vote. It also establishes rules for the president and his counsel to defend against evidence that emerges.
In addition, the resolution requires the House Intelligence Committee to issue a public report from its investigation and for the Judiciary Committee to use that report to draft articles of impeachment for a vote in the full House.
The House measure focuses on a basic issue: Did Trump commit an impeachable offense by enlisting the help of a foreign government, in this case Ukraine, to investigate his top rival for the presidency in 2020 – former Vice President Joe Biden.
If the House successfully votes to eventually impeach the president, it would trigger a trial in the Republican-led Senate – a process that would require votes from at least 20 Republicans and all Democrats to remove Trump from office and install Vice President Mike Pence as the nation’s chief executive.
At present, many if not most pundits give prospects of achieving the two-thirds Senate majority needed to convict the president slim odds.
The latest of many showdowns between Trump and congressional Democrats began with a July 25 phone conversation between Trump and newly elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in which Trump asked Zelenskyy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter. The Bidens have denied all Trump’s allegations of possible corruption in Ukraine business dealings.
At the time, Trump froze $400 million in US military aid to Ukraine, prompting Democrats to charge "quid pro quo" – American military aid in exchange for a Biden investigation. The White House has repeatedly denied the charge, claiming aid was not connected to Trump’s desire to investigate the Bidens.
Trump later released a transcript of the Zelenskyy conversation, claiming it was a verbatim account of an innocent conversation between two leaders. However one witnesses reportedly told House investigators that parts of the conversation were missing from the transcript – providing a likely avenue for Democrats to explore in public hearings.