Donald Trump has been impeached by the House of Representatives, becoming only the third US president to suffer the ignominy and bringing him a step closer to being removed from office.
Two articles of impeachment were passed over his behaviour in the Ukraine scandal – one for abuse of power and the other for obstruction of Congress.
Not a single Republican voted for either article – a fact the White House seized on to portray the Democrats’ impeachment drive as motivated by political bias.
The issue will now pass to the Senate, the other body that makes up the US Congress, which will hold a trial on whether to convict and remove Mr Trump from office next month.
But given the Republicans – Mr Trump’s party – hold the Senate majority and two thirds of senators would need to vote for removal it is very unlikely to happen.
Even so, impeachment creates a permanent black mark on Mr Trump’s political legacy that he shares with only two past presidents – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.
Addressing cheering supporters at a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, as the House delivered its historic verdict, Mr Trump was dismissive and defiant.
“They’ve been trying to impeach me from day one,” he said.
“After three years of sinister witch hunts, hoaxes, scams, tonight, House Democrats are trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans.”
Article one, abuse of power, passed with 230 votes to 197. Two Democrats voted against it. Article three, obstruction of Congress, passed with 229 votes to 197. Three Democrats voted against.
In the biggest surprise of the night, Tulsi Gabbard, the Hawaii congresswoman running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, voted ‘present’, meaning she did not back impeachment.
She later explained that US voters should be allowed to decide Mr Trump’s fate in next November’s election. “My vote today is a vote for much needed reconciliation and hope that together we can heal our country,” she said in a statement.
The vote plunges Mr Trump into uncharted political waters. No US president has ever won re-election after being impeached.
Mr Johnson, impeached in 1868, failed to win his party’s next presidential nomination. Bill Clinton, impeached in 1998, stood down when his second term ended in January 2000.
Yet there are perils, too, for the Democrats. The country is split down the middle on impeachment according to polls and moderate Democrats seeking re-election in pro-Trump districts could face a backlash.
Mr Trump, who had tweeted his fury and urged supporters to pray for him throughout Wednesday, showed no signs of remorse over the scandal which triggered impeachment during his rally.
“Crazy Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats have branded themselves with an eternal mark of shame,” the president said, referencing the Democratic House speaker who decided to go for impeachment.
The Democrats have a comfortable majority in the House, which allowed them to win the impeachment vote without any Republican support.
“Every single Republican voted for us,” Mr Trump said, reacting to the result in real time. “The Republican Party has never been so affronted but they have never been so united as they are right now.”
It was a message echoed by the White House, which immediately issued a statement after the vote in the name of Mr Trump’s press secretary, Stephanie Grisham.
The opening line read: “Today marks the culmination in the House of one of the most shameful political episodes in the history of our Nation.”
The two Democrats who voted against both articles of impeachment were Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who is now expected to join the Republicans, and Collin Peterson of Minnesota.
Both hold districts which are supportive of Mr Trump. Jared Golden, a Democrat from Maine, voted against the obstruction of Congress article.
Congressmen had rushed forward to the front of the House chamber when the first vote was called, signing red or green voting slips representing “nay” or “yea” and then handing them to the clerks to count.
There was a ripple of applause from Democrats when the first article of impeachment passed, but Ms Pelosi motioned for silence and their clapping soon stopped.
Ms Pelosi has repeatedly called impeachment a sad and solemn process, wary of appearing too partisan to voters. She wore black for the day of the vote itself.
“We could not be prouder or more inspired than by the moral courage of the House Democrats,” Ms Pelosi said in a press conference afterwards. “We never asked one of them how they were going to vote. We never whipped this vote.”
With less than a year to go before the election, Mr Trump’s campaign began the fightback against the impeachment vote within minutes of the result.
A fundraising email sent in Mr Trump’s name called for $4 million to be raised in the next 24 hours. “It’s US against THEM in this impeachment war,” it read. “And we need to strike first.”
Trump: They’re really after you
President Trump is defiant and continuing to pitch Congress against the American people. He tweeted:
US media reacts
The Washington Post said the impeachment proceedings mirrored Trump’s presidency for “disruption and division”.
Watch the moment Trump was impeached
Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, records the votes against the president.
John Ratcliffe, a Republican representative for Texas, was pretty clear about how he voted in Congress.
US media reacts
The New York Times said the Democrats have taken “a big risk” in seeking an “unlikely end goal”.
Gabbard abstains and says process was ‘fuelled by tribal animosities’
Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic presidential candidate, voted “present” in tonight’s vote, effectively abstaining on the impeachment process.
The representative for Hawaii said she “could not in good conscience vote either yes or no”, despite agreeing that Trump was guilty of wrongdoing, because she said the process was “partisan” and “fuelled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country”.
Read more on that here.
Pelosi: ‘Sad day for America’
In a press conference after the vote, Ms Pelosi said it was a “great day for the Constitution” but a “sad day for America”.
“I could not be prouder or more inspired by the moral courage of the House Democrats,” she said, adding that none of her party were asked how they would vote in advance.
Ms Pelosi has declined to say when she will nominate impeachment managers, who will fill a prosecutor-style role in the ensuing Senate trial. The decision opens up the possibility Ms Pelosi will delay sending the impeachment articles to the Senate trial until she is happy with the Republican’s set up, saying “we’ll decide what that dynamic is”.
“So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us, so hopefully it will be fair,” she said.
Which Democrats voted against impeachment?
The vote fell largely along party lines, with no Republicans voting to impeach Mr Trump.
There were a few defections on the Democratic side, with congressmen Jeff Van Drew and Collin Peterson voting against the first article, abuse of power.
Mr Van Drew, who represents a New Jersey district, is reportedly considering switching parties to become a Republican.
The two lawmakers were joined by a third Democrat, congressman Jared Golden, to vote against the second article, obstruction of Congress.
Congressman Justin Amash, who left the Republican Party to become an independent earlier this year, voted to impeach Mr Trump on both charges.
One of the most hotly watched lawmakers, Democratic presidential candidate, Tulsi Gabbard, simply voted present on both articles.
Ms Gabbard later released a statement explaining her decision.
“After doing my due diligence in reviewing the 658-page impeachment report, I came to the conclusion that I could not in good conscience vote either yes or no,” it stated.
“I am standing in the center and have decided to vote Present. I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing.
“I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country.”
Trump: ‘illegal, partisan and unconstitutional impeachment’
Trump is still on stage in Michigan, Harriet Alexander writes.
He’s not spoken much about impeachment – instead he’s riffed off space force, Tom Cruise and how his 13-year-old son Barron would get “crowds” in Central Park.
On impeachment, he has just said: “With today’s illegal, partisan and unconstitutional impeachment, the Democrats are declaring their disdain for the ordinary voter.
“It’s a politicial suicide march for the Democrats. Have you seen my polls in the last few weeks? It’s crazy. You know why? We have an election down the road.”
He continued, as the results came in:
“So we got every single Republican voted for us? Woah. Wow! Almost 200. We had 198, we didn’t lose one Republican vote. And three Democrats voted for us! Wow! Great job!
“The Republican party has never been so affronted, but they’ve never been so united as they are now.”
White House: Trump will be exonerated
The White House has responded to the vote, releasing a statement saying Mr Trump is “prepared for the next steps and confident that he will be fully exonerated” in the Senate trial.
Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer and a key figure of interest in the impeachment investigation has also given his reaction to the vote.
Impeachment in the House does not automatically result in removal from office. That decision is taken by the US Senate, which is set to hold a trial on Mr Trump’s fate in January.
At least 67 of the 100 senators would need to vote for removal for it to happen. It is expected to fall well short, given the Republicans hold the Senate majority.
Second article of impeachment passes
A second article of impeachment passes with 229 votes to 198.
The article accused Mr Trump of obstructing Congress by ordering his administration’s employees to ignore legally-binding subpoenas to give testimony and turn over documents to the impeachment inquiry, thereby undermining the probe into his conduct.
Trump becomes third US president in history to be impeached
Donald Trump has become the third US president in history to be impeached after the first article was passed by 230 votes to 197. The vote was largely on party lines, but two Democrats voted against the motion.
A flutter of applause from the Democrats filled the chamber as the vote was announced. The passage of the article, which accused Mr Trump of abusing power, sets on course a trial in the Senate on removing him from office.
The 435-member House is currently voting on the second article of impeachment facing Mr Trump – for obstructing the congressional probe into the Ukraine scandal.
Mike Pence: ‘What is going on in DC tonight is a disgrace’
In Michigan, Mike Pence, the vice president, has served as Mr Trump’s warm-up act, Harriet Alexander writes.
Mr Pence told the crowds that Mr Trump was watching the vote, and would be out shortly.
He’s wasted no time in attacking proceedings back in DC, describing them as “a disgrace”.
He says: “After a sham investigation, the Do Nothing Democrats are voting tonight to impeach our president.”
He said that voters “see straight through this empty, hollow dangerous game.” He continued: “The Republican Senate is going to have their say in January.
“I know that here in Michigan and all across America, voters will remember in November.”
Voting begins on the first of the two articles of impeachment, accusing Mr Trump of abuse of power for holding back almost $400 million in military aid while urging Ukraine to launch an investigation into Mr Biden, the Democrat he could face at the 2020 election.
Trump about to take the stage in Michigan as House prepares to vote
Our US correspondent, Harriet Alexander, is watching Donald Trump’s “Keep America Great Again” rally in Michigan.
Mr Trump was uncharacteristically quiet as he left Washington for Michigan earlier this afternoon, but we are expecting a strong response to impeachment once he takes the stage.
The president arrived at the Kellogg arena in Battle Creek, 120 miles west of Detroit, around 7.10pm.
According to the White House pool report, it’s a small venue by Trump rally standards but packed. A large Christmas tree is on stage with a Make America Great Again hat at the top, in lieu of a star.
House chamber fills ahead of vote
There’s a flurry of movement in the chamber as the moment of the vote approaches. Seats on the Democrat side of the House have quickly filled up in the last few minutes.
Republican members are still taking turns to register their objections to the vote. Currently up now is Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney and the third most senior Republican in the House. “I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to think of the Republic, think of the Constitution and vote against these dangerous articles of impeachment,” she says.
Where’s Tulsi Gabbard?
Political pundits are on the lookout to see if Democrat presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard shows up for tonight’s vote.
The congresswoman for Hawaii was not present for this morning’s procedural vote and queries to her staff have gone unanswered. If Ms Gabbard does show up, it is unclear how she will vote.
Nancy Pelosi watches on
Throughout today’s proceedings, Nancy Pelosi has sat listening to the hundreds of speeches given by her colleagues on the House floor.
The 79-year-old House Speaker has been sitting in various seats towards the back of the chamber, seemingly carrying out her work with aides and occasionally chatting with members of her party.
No words to the press
Mr Trump, unusually, has decided not to take questions from reporters as he left the White House on the way to a rally in Michigan.
He is due to take to the stage around the same time that the House votes on the two articles of impeachment.
Matt Gaetz: ‘Democrats haven’t forgiven America for voting Trump’
Meanwhile in the House of Representatives, Republican Matt Gaetz has taken to the floor.
“This is not about Ukraine,” he tells his fellow congressmen in an excoriating speech. “It’s about power. The president has it, House Democrats want it.”
“This impeachment charade marches on, having no rules and adhering to no sense of honour.
“Those who vote ‘yes’ on today’s articles of impeachment must carry the heavy burden of shame and guilt for as long as they serve in Congress, which won’t be long because the American people will remember in November.
“Democrats may have won the House in 2018 but they haven’t forgive Donald Trump for having the audacity to win the presidency. And they haven’t forgiven you, the American people, for voting for him. This was plotted and planned before he was sworn in, possibly before some Democrats could point to Ukraine on a map.
This impeachment isn’t legitimate, it’s the radical left insurance policy. But we have an insurance policy too. It’s the next election and we intend to win it.”
An update on timings
As the impeachment debate rolls into an eighth hours, there are signs that it may not be too much longer before a vote is called.
The Republicans have indicated they will hold a press conference at 7.30pm Washington time. Could we get a vote before then?
What are US publications saying about the day’s events?
The Denver Post editorial today:
“It is with a solemn sense of responsibility to the US Constitution and a deep love of this country that we call for Congress to exercise its power of impeachment.
“The Denver Post editorial board does not take this position lightly.
“All Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, should be deeply troubled by Trump’s actions. Standing up now as a nation and declaring that this US president and future presidents cannot behave with such blatant disregard for honesty and integrity is essential. We cannot tolerate this behavior.”
The New York Post:
The Boston Globe:
Pence: ‘What’s happening is a disgrace’
Mike Pence, the vice president, is in Michigan ahead of Mr Trump’s rally tonight. He told an audience: “What’s happening on Capitol Hill today is a disgrace.
“They’re pushing this partisan impeachment because they know they can’t stop you from giving president Donald Trump four more years in the White House. “
Republicans launch furious defence
Republicans have mounted a fierce rebuke of today’s proceedings, with several accusing Democrats of attempting to undermine the result of the 2016 election.
One congressman, Patrick McHenry, said in his speech: “In 2016, 63 million Americans went to the polls and elected Donald Trump president of the United States. House Democrats have been trying to overturn the election ever since.”
Meanwhile Doug Collin, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said: “This an impeachment based on presumption. This is basically also a poll-tested impeachment on what actually sells to the American people. Today’s going to be a lot of things. What it is not, is fair. What it is not, is about the truth.”
Trump condemns ‘atrocious lies’ by Democrats
Despite the White House claiming Mr Trump is not watching today’s proceedings, the president has sent a flurry of tweets out during the debate.
Pelosi calls Trump threat to the US
The House Speaker called Mr Trump an ongoing threat to American democracy as she took to the floor ahead of the historic vote.
“Today we are here to defend democracy for the people,” Ms Pelosi said in a speech which drew applause from her Democrat colleagues.
“He gave us no choice. What we are discussing today is the established fact that the president violated the Constitution. It is a matter of fact that the president is an ongoing threat to our national security and the integrity of our elections – the basis of our democracy,” Ms Pelosi said.
Following Ms Pelosi, Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said, “This an impeachment based on presumption. This is basically also a poll-tested impeachment on what actually sells to the American people. Today’s going to be a lot of things. What it is not, is fair. What it is not, is about the truth.”
Heaven and hell invoked in speeches
There has been a solemn mood in the House debate so far as Democrats and Republicans take it in turns to argue their case, writes Ben Riley-Smith.
So far every judgement has been down party lines, with Dems excoriating the president and GOP members dismissing the arguments against him.
It has been interesting how at times congressmen have reached for religious analogies to justify their positions. “Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered,” said James Clyburn, one of the most senior Democrats in the House.
“These words were written at a time when our Founders were rebelling against the tyrannical rule of the British monarchy.
“Today, we have a president who seems to believe he is a king or above the law.”
Trump campaign: ‘Thanks Nancy!’
As debate continues in the House of Representatives, Mr Trump’s campaign team have released new polling which shows the president’s approval rating has surged by six points.
An email from the campaign, entitled “Thanks Nancy!”, reads: “A wave of new polls point to Democrats’ partisan impeachment sham backfiring—and sparking a reckoning in 2020.”
The campaign highlighted a new Gallup poll released Wednesday morning which suggests opposition to impeachment is at 51 per cent, while Mr Trump’s approval rating has surged six points since the impeachment proceedings began.
Joe Kennedy: ‘This is a moment you will read about in history books’
Congressman Joe Kennedy III, the grandson of Robert F Kennedy, uses his time on the floor to explain to his children why he is voting to impeach Mr Trump.
“Dear Ellie and James, this is a moment you will read about in your history books. Today, I will vote to impeach the president of the United States, and I want you to know why.
“He broke our laws. He threatened our security. He abused the highest, most sacred office in our land. I want you to know that it does not feel good. I can’t stop thinking about the cost to our country. Not just the impeachable offences, but the collateral damage of a president who uses power like a weapon against his own people.
“It erodes our decency, degrades our dignity. I don’t know yet how they will tell the story of this era, but I want to tell you the story of this day. Let the record show that today, justice won, that we did our job, that we kept our word, that we stood our sacred ground. Let the record show that we did not let you down. I love you. Listen to Mom. I’ll be home soon.”
How did we get here?
The Telegraph’s US editor, Ben Riley-Smith, has a thorough rundown of how a fateful July phone call led us to today’s impeachment vote.
It began the day after Robert Mueller flopped. Dressed in a sober suit, the US special counsel investigating Russian election meddling finally broke his silence on July 24.
Appearing before a congressional committee, Mr Mueller walked congressmen and the public through the most damning findings in his report, answering questions about his investigation for the first time.
Democrats hoped the moment would be the movie version of the Mueller Report, a chance for his stark conclusions – not least the litany of episodes uncovered of Mr Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice – to be hammered home for a television audience.
They were wrong. Mr Mueller’s performance defied his image as a ruthless Vietnam veteran pursuing the president. The ex-FBI director spoke quietly. He avoided hyperbole. He appeared confused by some questions.
Now, with the report published, no more criminal indictments coming and Mr Mueller announcing he was returning to private life, the clouds were parting. “I thought we won,” Mr Trump would later say of the spectre of impeachment triggered by the Mueller probe. “I thought it was dead.”
Read the piece in full
Nancy Pelosi arrives
Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, has arrived for today’s debate. Like many Democrat female members, she is wearing black in a nod to the somber occasion. Ms Pelosi has reportedly instructed her party not to appear to be celebrating the day’s events, she wants the impeachment to be seen as a step Democrats have taken reluctantly.
How will members vote?
A number of moderate Democrats, including many first-term congressmen who built the House majority and could risk their re-election in districts where the president is popular, have said they will vote to impeach.
Many drew on the Constitution and the intent of the country’s founders as they considered the role of Congress to conduct oversight in the nation’s system of checks and balances.
Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer, from Iowa, referred to the oath she took in January as she was sworn into office as guiding her decision. She announced support for both articles of impeachment to “honour my duty to defend our Constitution and democracy from abuse of power at the highest levels.”
However another freshman Democrat, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, is indicating he will switch parties to become a Republican after opposing impeachment.
It follows Michigan conservative Justin Amash leaving the Republicans earlier this year when he favoured impeachment.
One new Democrat congressman, Jared Golden of Maine, said he would vote to impeach on abuse of power but not obstruction.
Debate begins with a prayer
Ben Riley-Smith, our US Editor watching on in the House’s press gallery, has this from the opening minutes of the debate.
A historic day in the House of Representatives has begun with a prayer.
Shortly after the gavel was banged at 9am, the few dozen congressmen present for the very start of the debate stood solemnly and bowed their heads.
God was asked to impart “wisdom” on the politicians who would consider an issue with “far reaching” consequences – a reference to the impeachment of Donald J Trump.
“Help them and help us all to put away any judgements that belong to you and do what we can to live together in harmony”, read one line.
Then those present placed their right hand on their heart and, facing the front of the chamber, read out the pledge of allegiance to America.
First thing this morning, the House is expected to vote to adopt the rules for the debate laid out by the Rules Committee last night.
According to the rules passed by the committee, members will have six hours to debate the impeachment resolution, with the time split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.
Next expect plenty of procedural motions to be put forward by the Republicans in a bid to stall the vote and express their displeasure.
The main vote on the two articles of impeachment are expected this evening, most likely between 6.30pm and 7.30pm eastern time, between 11.30pm and 12.30 in the UK. A separate vote will be held on each of the two articles.
Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, may also select members to act as impeachment managers who will act like prosecutors in the trial to follow in the Senate.
Meanwhile tonight Mr Trump is holding a campaign rally in Michigan, which means he could potentially be on stage when he becomes only the third president in US history to be impeached.
White House says Trump will not be watching
The president’s aides have said he will not be watching today’s debate, but will be kept up to date with the proceedings. However, Mr Trump has already begun sharing his take on twitter:
Historic day begins in Washington
Good morning from the US capital, where the House has just convened for today’s impeachment proceedings.
Republicans in the chamber are expected to kick off the day by introducing a number of procedural motions as a delay tactic.
However the vote is still expected to be held this evening.
On his way into the chamber, Steny Hoyer, the Democrat majority leader in the House, told CNN: “I think it will be six hours of debate, but I think we’ll get the work done by the end of the day”.