LIVE: House votes on impeachment of President Donald Trump
ABC News has live coverage of the House of Representatives' vote on the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
"We gather today under the dome of this temple of democracy to exercise one of the most solemn powers that this body can take: The impeachment of the President of the United States," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday to kick off debate on the House floor. "If we do not act now we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the President's reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice."
The bitter and contentious debate over Trump's impeachment comes ahead of votes expected to fall almost completely along party lines. All Republicans are expected to oppose impeachment, and only three Democrats have signaled they will break ranks to vote against one or both articles, including one, Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who is planning to change parties.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat who approved the impeachment articles in his committee, said that Trump had "broken his oath of office."
"His conduct continues to undermine our Constitution and threaten our next election," Nadler said. "His actions warrant his impeachment and demand his removal from office."
But Republicans charged that Democrats were abusing the power of their majority to impeach the President less than a year before the presidential election.
"From the very moment that the majority party in this House won, the inevitability that we would be here today was only a matter of what date they would schedule it," said Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel. "We on the Republican side have no problem taking our case to the majority and to the people of this country because they elected Donald Trump, and it is a matter for the voters — not this House, not in this way, not in the way the way this is being done."
As debate kicked off Wednesday morning, Republicans raised a series of procedural objections, forcing several roll-call votes on the floor before the debate on impeachment began.
The House approved the rule governing the impeachment debate just before noon, and the House will now debate the articles of impeachment for six hours. The vote was 228-197, with two Democrats, Van Drew and Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, opposing it along with all Republicans.
It's been 85 days since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Democrats would launch an impeachment inquiry after an anonymous whistleblower complaint alleged that Trump had solicited interference in a July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help his 2020 reelection campaign. Democrats say their investigation revealed a months-long campaign directed by the President and carried out by his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani for Ukraine to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, along with the 2016 election. The President withheld US security aid and a one-on-one meeting that Zelensky sought, they say, and then obstructed the investigation by defying congressional subpoenas across the administration.
Trump has pushed back on the impeachment charges against him repeatedly on Twitter leading up to the vote. And he sent a blistering letter to Pelosi on Tuesday accusing Democrats of an "illegal, partisan attempted coup."
"History will judge you harshly as you proceed with this impeachment charade," he wrote.
The House is debating the impeachment resolution Wednesday throughout the day before taking a separate vote on each impeachment article.
At a morning meeting Wednesday, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff privately told his colleagues that Republicans said they would limit the procedural objections in exchange for an extra hour of debate, according to a lawmaker who was present.
That's why there will be six hours of floor debate on impeachment instead of five, as had been previously planned.
There are just a handful of publicly undecided Democrats remaining, as most of the Democrats representing the 31 districts Trump won in 2016 have said they will vote to impeach the President.
The House vote will shift the impeachment proceedings to the Senate, where Republicans control the majority. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday predicted that the Senate would have a "largely partisan outcome," after saying last week that he was coordinating with the President's lawyers ahead of the trial.
McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are already clashing over witnesses in the Senate trial, expected to begin in January, after the Democratic leader requested four witnesses on Monday, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton, to which McConnell objected.
In the Senate trial, the prosecution will be led by House lawmakers who are known as impeachment managers. The managers are expected to be named at some point after Wednesday's impeachment vote, as the House Rules Committee adopted procedures Tuesday for the House to vote on a resolution approving the impeachment managers.
This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.