The articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump have passed by the U.S. House of Representatives to submit to the Senate for a trial.
The resolution passed largely along party lines by 193 to 228 votes.
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, signed copies of the articles together with a team of Democratic lawmakers who will prosecute the case against Trump.
The House – ordered by opposition Democrats – impeached the President preceding month.
The Senate – represented by Mr Trump’s Republican Party – will conclude whether to convict and remove him from office.
“Today, we will make history. When the managers walk down the hall, we will move across a threshold in history – sending articles of impeachment against the President of the United States for abuse of authority and obstruction of the House,” said Nancy Pelosi in a press conference before the signing of the articles.
After receiving the articles, Leader of Republican Senate Mitch McConnell said they would be appearing on Thursday at noon, followed by a reading on the floor of the upper chamber. He also informed the trial would commence on Tuesday.
What is Trump accused of?
The President is alleged to have made abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He persistently denies his attempt to force Ukraine’s leader during a phone call on 25 July last year to open an investigation into his would-be Democratic White House challenger Joe Biden.
President Trump has been touting unsubstantiated corruption allegations about Mr Biden and his son, Robert Hunter, who accepted a well-paid board position with a Ukrainian energy firm. His father, Joe Biden, looked after American-Ukrainian relations as the 47th U.S. Vice-President. Mr Biden is also among a dozen candidates campaigning for nomination in Democratic Party’s White House.
The forthcoming Senate trial will be only the third of a U.S. president in history.
Will Donald Trump be removed from the office?
While Democrats operate the House, Mr Trump’s companion Republicans hold power in the Senate 53-47 and are all but certain to clear him. It remains to be witnessed how the case could progress in influencing the President’s campaign for re-election this November.
Democrats expect the impeachment will carry symbolic weight.
“We are here today to cross a very significant threshold in American history,” Mrs Pelosi said on the House floor before the voting.
Nearly all Republicans voted against the resolution to move the articles of impeachment except the one Democrat from Minnesota: Colling Peterson did not vote in favor.
Justin Amash of Michigan – a former Republican who left the party and became an independent – joined republicans.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy revealed that Democrats were pushing towards the removal of the U.S. President with the “weakest case.” He called it a “sad saga.”
How will the trial work?
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi came earlier at a news conference with the seven “managers” who will prosecute the Democratic case versus the Republican President. They’ll be directed by Adam Schiff, the current chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
The other six include head of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler; Zoe Lofgren of California, Hakeem Jeffries of New York; Jason Crow of Colorado; Sylvia Garcia of Texas; and Val Demings of Florida.
The White House Lawyers Jay Sekulow and Pat Cipollone have been called to lead the President’s defense team.
“Opening statements in the trial were expected next Tuesday,” said Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the Senate.
John Roberts, the Supreme Court Chief Justice will be sworn in to preside, and he will administer an oath to all 100 senators to make “impartial justice” as jurors.
Early during selection, Mr McConnell infuriated senior Democrats when he seemed to abandon that responsibility, saying “Senate Republicans would act in lockstep with the Trump administration.”
Mr Trump had firmly rejected the impeachment charges as a “hoax,” during an event at the White House.
The Senate trial could still be underway during February when low and New Hampshire hold the first contests to choose the eventual Democratic presidential candidate.
Mrs Pelosi defended her stance to paused submitting of impeachment articles to Congress for over three weeks as she disagreed with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell regarding the trial rules, and even co-Democrats urged her to stop delaying.
“Time has been a friend in all of this, as it has yielded incriminating evidence, more truth into the public domain,” Nancy Pelosi told reporters.
After Mrs Pelosi talked, Mr Trump tweeted to call the process a “Con job by the Do Nothing Democrats.”
Here we go again, another Con Job by the Do Nothing Democrats. All of this work was supposed to be done by the House, not the Senate!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2020
Will there be any witnesses during Trump’s trial?
One of most stumbling opinions between Senate Republicans and House Democrats is over what testimony will be employed at the trial.
“Senate’s trial plan will ensure votes on whether to call witnesses and hear new evidence,” Republicans senators Mike Rounds and Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday.
It takes about 51 votes to pass rules or call witnesses, meaning at least four Republican senators would have to side with Democrats to guarantee on testimony.
The White House is assumed to bring identified numerous possible defectors in the Republican ranks, including Mr Romney and Ms Collins.
The others include Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is retiring this year.
“My position is that there should be a vote on whether or not witnesses should be called,” said Ms Collins.
Mitt Romney stated he likes to hear from John Bolton, the former National Security Adviser, who has declared he would only testify if given a legal summons.
“I wish baring some kind of surprise. I will be voting in favor of hearing from witnesses after those opening arguments,” said Mr Romney.
According to Republicans, if witnesses are called, they may try to subpoena Mr Biden and his son Robert Hunter Biden, and the unnamed government whistleblower whose complaint about Mr Trump ignited the whole impeachment inquiry.
“President would have the supremacy to call witnesses should the Democrats do so,” a White House senior official told reports Wednesday and added that “it would be almost ‘extraordinary unlikely’ for the trial to progress beyond two weeks.”