A new chapter in American history is about to unfold on the House floor.
The House of Representatives is set to impeach President Donald Trump Wednesday accused of violating the nation’s trust and his oath to preserve, protect and defend bedrock constitutional values. An Associated Press tally shows there are enough votes in the House to impeach him.
Trump will be charged by the House Democratic majority with two articles of impeachment, for abusing his power and obstructing Congress in a scheme to lure Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 election.
It would make the 45th president only the third commander in chief to face the penalty of impeachment after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Richard Nixon resigned before the House could vote.
Impeachment will subject Trump to what former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter called a “profound disgrace” that stains a president’s legacy forever. Even if, as expected, Trump is acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate and allowed to finish his term and run for another one.
If impeached, Trump’s powers would be suspended and the Constitutional Court decides whether or not the president should be removed from office.
The Senate acquitted both impeached presidents before Trump.
It will be a daylong showdown that’s been boiling for years between Republicans loyal to Trump and Democrats who say his conduct toward Ukraine makes him unfit for office.
Trump, meanwhile, is set to hold a rally in Michigan.
On Tuesday, Trump sent off a fiery letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denouncing what he called the “vicious crusade” against him, claiming that those accused in the Salem Witch Trials — 20 of whom were executed — were afforded more due process.
Pelosi told reporters Tuesday she hadn’t yet read the full letter, but had seen “the essence” of it and called it “really sick.”
Republicans are already working on how to conduct a trial in January.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will be among those deciding Trump’s fate, has already said he will work with Trump’s White House counsel on how to conduct the trial.
Where do Americans sit on impeachment?
The impeachment crisis is also a symptom of a country caught in a massive political estrangement that is tearing apart any sense of common patriotic purpose.
It has exposed a political culture in which the facts — in this case, of the President’s actions — are no longer sacrosanct and that has been laced with a fog of misinformation by his allies. The ill feelings and controversy stirred in recent weeks, ultimately by the actions of the most divisive President in modern history, will reverberate long after he’s left office.
America is as split on impeachment as it is on everything else.
A poll released Tuesday by the Washington Post and ABC News show 49% of Americans are in favor of impeachment and removal from office. 46% were against it.
A CNN poll had it 45% in favor of impeachment and removal and 47% against. The most recent Fox News poll had it at 50% favoring both impeachment and removal, 41% against.
The vote could happen early Wednesday evening after debate and procedural action, set to begin at 8 a.m. CT.
AP says the vote is expected to happen between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. CT — one day shy of the 21st anniversary of the impeachment of Bill Clinton.