President Donald Trump has been impeached by the US house of representatives at the same time he was defiantly addressing a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan.
The lower chamber of the congress found him guilty of abuse of office in the Ukrainian affair in which he was accused of seeking foreign interference in US politics — an impeachable of offence.
Trump will remain in office until he is tried and convicted by the senate, a scenario considered unlikely because his Republican party has control of the upper chamber.
Unlike in Nigeria, an impeachment in the US does not mean automatic removal from office.
It is the equivalent of an indictment for wrongdoing — but a trial will be held at the senate and a vote taken to either convict or acquit him.
If he remains in office after the senate trial that is expected to take place after the winter break in January, Trump will be joining a rare group of two other American presidents — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton — who were impeached but saved the hammer by the senate.
In Michigan, Trump told the rally: “While we’re creating jobs and fighting for Michigan, the radical left in Congress is consumed with envy and hatred and rage, you see what’s going on.”
In a vote that was very partisan, 230 Democrats voted to find Trump guilty while 197 Republicans sought to absolve him on the first charge.
Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat running for president in 2020, voted “present” — refusing to vote for or against.
A second vote on “obstruction of congress” followed a similar partisan pattern, with 229 Democrats voting “yea” to the charge and 198 Republicans saying “nay”.
At about 8:30pm local time (02:30am in Nigeria), the house called for votes on the two charges.
The first bordered abuse of power over his alleged attempt to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into Joe Biden, his Democratic political rival.
Second is obstruction of congress — for allegedly refusing to co-operate with the impeachment inquiry, withholding documentary evidence and barring his aides from testifying.
Before the vote, the president had sent an angry letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, accusing her of declaring “open war on American democracy”.
After the impeachment, White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, issued a statement describing it as “the culmination in the House of one of the most shameful political episodes in the history of our nation.”
In his reaction, Trump posted a photo on Twitter saying, In reality, they are not after me, they are after you.
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