President Donald Trump met the fate that appeared inevitable for months: Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives impeached him after a contentious public debate over his actions toward the government of Ukraine and the extent to which he pressured it for political gain.
The House's votes on two articles of impeachment — essentially two charges that now move to a trial in the Senate, where Trump is unlikely to be removed from office — on Dec. 18 mark only the third time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached.
U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Aurora, waited longer than some of his colleagues to announce support for impeachment, holding off until the weekend beforehand because he wanted to review all the available information before making a decision, according to his office. His 6th Congressional District includes Centennial, Littleton, Highlands Ranch, Aurora and parts of Adams County, among other suburban areas.
In his district, people told Crow they want to be sure the impeachment process is transparent and non-political, Crow said. He promised constituents to carefully weigh the evidence, which he said was "overwhelming" and unrefuted by the president and his allies in Congress.
"I was sent to Washington to obviously deliver on legislative priorities and to make people’s lives better, but people also want to make sure we are restoring the checks and balances," Crow said by phone Dec. 19. "They wanted accountability and transparency, and this is part of that effort."
In his remarks on the House floor, Crow highlighted his service as a veteran in his reasons for voting to impeach.
"Our founders created a system to ensure we would have no kings or dictators. A system that vested power in the people to ensure that no man or woman is above the law," Crow said in the remarks. "Generation after generation, this system has survived because people have fought for it. Today, it is our turn."
Trump has, at various times, called the impeachment process a “witch hunt,” a “hoax” and a “sham."
The House voted 230-197-1 on the first article, abuse of power. The overall count was 229-198-1 on the second article, obstruction of Congress.
Conservative Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, who left the GOP to become an independent, voted to impeach Trump on both charges.
Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a presidential candidate, voted present on both.
Crow, who in 2018 took a famously difficult swing district from Republican control, largely stayed quiet on social media about impeachment in the weeks leading up to the vote.
"It was a sad and somber day for the country yesterday," Crow said, echoing some colleagues' comments on the impeachment vote. "It was not something I was looking forward to and not why I came to Congress."
But the president "left us no choice," Crow said.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican representing the far south Denver suburbs and much of rural east Colorado, was one among the full GOP to vote against impeachment. He argued on the House floor Dec. 18 that Democrats "lower the bar for impeachment," that there was no crime and that Trump was denied due process.
“Today, Democrats give this country a new standard for impeachment," Buck said in his remarks. "One that no president will be able to escape. This is a mistake that will do long-term damage to the nation."
The trial is expected to begin in January in the Senate, where a vote of two-thirds is necessary for conviction — removal from office. Democrats had the majority in the House to impeach Trump, but it's almost certain they have little chance of success in the Republican-controlled Senate.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado said in a statement that it's "critical that each of us fully assesses the evidence and any witnesses presented" in the Senate.
"The rule of law is a fundamental tenet of American democracy. Its enforcement requires elected leaders to set aside partisanship for principle," Bennet said in the statement. "We must reaffirm our commitment to the rule of law by upholding our constitutional checks and balances.”
A spokesperson for Colorado's Republican U.S. senator, Cory Gardner, gave a statement the morning after the House's vote.
"Senator Gardner believes Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry to appease the far-left has been a total circus that has only served to divide this country," the statement said. "Senator Gardner will be a juror and unlike what has happened in the House, he is confident the process in the Senate will be bipartisan and fair."
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