President Donald Trump became the third holder of America’s highest office to be impeached in a historic vote late Wednesday on the House floor.
On a nearly party-line vote, the United States House of Representatives voted 229 to 198 to impeach Trump on an article of obstruction of Congress and 230 to 197 to impeach him on an article of abuse of power. One member, Tulsi Gabbard, voted "present" on both articles.
Kelly Shaw, associate teaching professor of political science, said before the House voted Wednesday impeachment is a constitutional process, but also a political process.
“It would appear that it’s certainly going to go through and the Republicans will not be able to keep President Trump from being impeached,” Shaw said. “What in reality that means is the trial in the Senate […] will find him not guilty.”
Impeachment is the process that takes place in the House of Representatives. A president can be impeached by a simple majority vote in the House. Democrats currently have 233 members in the House, Republicans have 197 with one independent member and four vacancies.
In order for a president to be removed from office, two-thirds of senators need to find a president guilty in the subsequent impeachment trial in that chamber of Congress. There are currently 45 Democrats, two independents and 53 Republican senators.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened debate on the House floor early Wednesday and said the president had “violated the Constitution” and left Democrats with “no choice” other than impeaching him.
“If we do not act now, we’d be derelict in our duty,” Pelosi said. “It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice.”
Article II Section 4 of the Constitution states the president, vice president and all “civil officers of the United States,” can be removed from office on impeachment for and their subsequent conviction of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
“The Democrats clearly think that the president has violated the Constitution through of course the ties that he’s had with the Ukrainian president and some of the requests he has made there,” Shaw said. “That’s the political part of it and [where] we get into the high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Sehba Faheem, co-president of the College Democrats at Iowa State said in a statement this could be a “historic day” not only for Democrats, but also for “any American who believes in the credibility of the presidency.”
“No person should be above the law, no matter what position they hold,” Faheem said in the statement. “Donald Trump broke the law, and repeatedly tried to cover up his actions. Only by the testimony of dedicated public servants, we were able to elucidate his crimes. Tonight, we may finally be able to remove the criminals that have taken over the White House.”
The College Republicans of Iowa State did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.
All four of Iowa’s members of the House voted on the impeachment articles Wednesday. All three Democrats: Abby Finkenauer, Dave Loebsack and Cindy Axne voted in favor of impeaching Trump on both articles. Iowa’s lone House Republican, Steve King, voted against both.
Mack Shelley, Iowa State professor and chair of the political science department, said it is possible this could be an issue for representatives in the 2020 elections.
Trump won all four congressional districts in Iowa in his 2016 victory in the state.
“Loebsack, [...] it’s kind of hard to hurt him because he’s leaving the job,” Shelley said. “My understanding is that Finkenauer is in a little bit better shape than Axne, Finkenauer had a little bit more of a cushion than Axne did [in her 2018 victory].”
Shaw said he does not think impeachment will hurt Trump with his base. According to the FiveThirtyEight average of presidential approval rating polls, Trump reached his highest approval level among Americans Tuesday since March 2017.
“I think it’s going to hurt the average voter the most because they’re going to say [to Congress] ‘gentlemen and ladies, do your jobs,’” Shaw said.