President Donald Trump was impeached by House Democrats for abuse of power in a historic vote in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, setting up a Senate trial on removing him from office after three turbulent years.
The Democratic-majority House voted 230-197 to impeach the 45th President of the US.
Republicans repeatedly drove the line that the Democrats rushed the investigation; Trump was treated more unfairly than witches put on trial in the 17th century Americas — or even than Jesus Christ, they claimed.
Despite testimony from 17 officials that Trump leveraged his office for domestic politic gain, the president furiously denounced the impeachment process as a "witch hunt," an "attempted coup" and on Wednesday as an "assault on America." He even wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asking her to stop the impeachment.
"Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers. During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats afforded this president and this process," said Georgia Republican Barry Loudermilk.
And Representative Fred Keller (R-PA) quoted Jesus on the cross as he’s portrayed in the Gospel of Luke. He went on to say that he was praying for Democrats: “From the gospel of Luke, the 23rd chapter, verse 34: ‘And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'
As The House voted, Trump spent the first part of the day holed up at the White House, sending out tweets reflecting his frustration. Democrats are "trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans," he charged. anger and predictions of revenge in the 2020 election.
Thousands of Trump's most fervent supporters were cheering him at a rally in Michigan where he railed against a "radical left" he said was "consumed with hatred."
Democrats said they had "no choice" but to formally charge the Republican president.
"What is at risk here is the very idea of America," said Adam Schiff, the lawmaker who headed the impeachment inquiry, ahead of the vote.
Impeachment day saw both sides delve deep into Constitutional law, citing the intentions of the country's hallowed founders like Benjamin Franklin or Alexander Hamilton.
The Republicans accused Democrats of being driven by a party fringe of socialist extremists and "Trump-haters." They even said that the impeachment would backlash against the party in national elections next November.
"This is not about Ukraine, it's about power," said Republican Matt Gaetz.
"Voters will never forget that Democrats have been triggered into impeaching the president, because they don't like him, and they don't like us." Democrats countered that Republicans were issuing blanket denials and counter-accusations instead of looking at the evidence.
"We do not hear, because we cannot hear, because they cannot articulate, a real defence of the president's actions," said Jerry Nadler, whose Judiciary Committee drafted the charges against Trump.