WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Democratic-led House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to send two formal charges against President Donald Trump to the Senate, clearing the way for only the third impeachment trial of a U.S. president to begin in earnest next week.
Lawmakers voted 228 to 193 to give the Senate, controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, the task of putting him on trial on charges of abuse of power for asking Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden and of obstruction of Congress for blocking testimony and documents sought by Democratic lawmakers.
The vote, which also approved a team of seven Democratic lawmakers named by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve as prosecutors in the trial, was largely along party lines.
The 100-seat Senate is expected to acquit Trump, keeping him in office, as none of its 53 Republicans has voiced support for removing him, a step that under the U.S. Constitution would require a two-thirds majority.
But Trump’s impeachment by the House last month will remain as a stain on his record and the televised trial in the Senate could be uncomfortable for him as he seeks re-election on Nov. 3, with Biden a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to challenge him.
“We are here today to cross a very important threshold in American history,” Pelosi said on the House floor before the vote.
Pelosi launched the impeachment inquiry in September after earlier resisting such a move centered on Trump’s actions to impede a federal investigation that documented Russian interference in the 2016 election to boost his candidacy.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a Trump nemesis who served as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles for six years, was selected to head the team of House “managers.” The White House has yet to unveil its defense team. The trial will overseen by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts.
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said Trump “expects to be fully exonerated,” saying in a statement, “President Trump has done nothing wrong.”
Opening statements in the trial are expected next Tuesday, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose fellow Republicans will set the rules for the trial.