On the day after he became only the third president in the 230-year history of the presidency to be impeached, Donald Trump was described by people close to him as “a little shellshocked.” According to a New York Times report, Trump may not have fully expected to be impeached, because advisers told him that House Democrats did not have enough votes to get it done.
In the end, 230 House members voted to impeach Trump on one article accusing him of abusing the power of his office, while 229 voted to impeach on a second “obstruction of Congress” article. Both vote totals were more than the articles to impeach President Bill Clinton in 1998.
Trump’s advisers tried to convince him that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was so uncertain of getting enough votes to impeach on Wednesday that she may simply give up before even bringing the impeachment articles to the House floor for a full vote, according to the NYT report.
Aides attempted to distract Trump from the impeachment vote, scheduling a rally in Michigan at which he delivered an angry, grievance-filled speech that included a suggestion that the late House rep from that state, John Dingell, who served six decades in Congress, went to hell after he died earlier this year.
The statement brought an anguished response from Dingell’s widow, Debbie Dingell, who now serves in Congress.
“You brought me down in a way you can never imagine,” she told Trump.
But after the rally, according to the NYT report, Trump became determined to appear in both public and private as if the impeachment had not affected him. On the Air Force One flight back to Washington, D.C., from Michigan, Trump told aides that being impeached “doesn’t feel like anything,” as quoted in the NYT report.
On Thursday morning, Trump was informed that Pelosi had chosen not to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial, until Democrats could be assured that the Senate trial would be conducted fairly.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced publicly that he does not intend to be “impartial,” even though he must take an oath requiring him to be so. He has also revealed that he will coordinate closely with Trump as to how the Senate trial should operate.
When Trump learned of the delay, he reacted with apparent fury, firing off a tweet saying that the Senate would decide when to hold a trial and if “the Do Nothing Democrats decide, in their great wisdom, not to show up, they would lose by Default!” as quoted by Politico.
He also accused Pelosi of being “afraid” to send the impeachment articles to the Senate because, Trump said, they were “pathetic.”
The U.S. Constitution gives the Senate “sole power” to hold impeachment trials. But it says nothing about how long the House may wait before transmitting articles of impeachment.