Donald Trump impeached after historic vote and will now face Senate trial

19 December 2019, 02:12 | Updated: 19 December 2019, 11:30

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Donald Trump has become the third US president to be impeached following a historic vote aimed at removing him from office.

The Democrat controlled House of Representatives voted on two charges, that he abused his power and that he obstructed congress. He will now face a trial in the Senate.

The only other US presidents to be impeached are Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998.

The historic vote split along party lines has divided the US. Mr Trump is accused of abusing the power of his office by enlisting a foreign government to investigate a political rival ahead of the 2020 election.

Read more: Donald Trump impeachment - what happens now?

President Donald Trump has been impeached
President Donald Trump has been impeached. Picture: PA

In the small hours of this morning, the President tweeted: "In reality, they're not after me, they're after you - I'm just in the way" in a direct appeal to his supporters.

Earlier he tweeted: "SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!"

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said Donald Trump's impeachment is far-fetched and predicts that the US Senate will reject it.

Having approved that abuse of power charge by a vote of 230 for to 197 against, the House then approved the second article of the impeachment resolution - that Mr Trump obstructed Congress in its investigation - by 229 votes to 198.

The articles of impeachment, the political equivalent of an indictment, now go to the Senate for trial, most likely in January.

Mr Trump is expected to be acquitted by the Republican-led chamber, but would still then have to run for re-election under the spectre of his impeachment.

The format of the debate is not set but will be determined by Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat counterpart Chuck Schumer.

A two-thirds majority is needed to convict and oust Mr Trump from office.

The House impeachment resolution laid out in stark terms the two articles of impeachment against Mr Trump stemming from his July phone call when he asked the Ukraine president for a "favour" - to announce it was investigating Democrats ahead of the 2020 election.

He also pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to probe unsubstantiated corruption allegations against Joe Biden, the former vice president and 2020 White House contender.

President Trump is only the third US leader to face the process
President Trump is only the third US leader to face the process. Picture: PA

What is impeachment?

Impeachment is a charge of misconduct made by a legislative body against an official in a public office, including the president.

If successful, impeachment does not necessarily lead to removal from office and it is not a criminal trial.

However, it is the first step in the eventual downfall of a high-level official and will form the basis of a trial.

The US Constitution makes it clear that a president "shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanours."