WASHINGTON — American history is happening on the House floor.
Democrats are driving President Donald Trump to the brink of impeachment Wednesday when they bring abuse and obstruction charges against him to a full House vote. That could take place early Wednesday evening, making the 45th president only the third commander in chief to face that penalty.
But first, watch for a daylong showdown that’s been boiling for years between Republicans loyal to Trump and Democrats who say his conduct toward Ukraine makes him unfit for office. Look, too, for legacy moments for Washington’s political veterans on the eve of the 2020 election year.
What to watch during a historic day on Capitol Hill that begins at 8 a.m. and is expected to end with a final vote between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.:
Trump is heading for impeachment. When the House opens debate, the outcome will have been known for some time.
A tally compiled by The Associated Press found that a majority of House members have said they will vote to approve the charges and send them to the Senate for a trial next month.
The GOP-led Senate is not expected to convict and remove Trump from office.
Trump tweeted Wednesday morning: “Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG!”
Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG! A terrible Thing. Read the Transcripts. This should never happen to another President again. Say a PRAYER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2019
Expect most Democrats to vote for impeachment, and all Republicans to vote against it.
But there are exceptions.
One freshman Democrat, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, has indicated he will oppose impeachment, then switch parties to become a Republican. Earlier this year, Michigan conservative Rep. Justin Amash left the GOP when he favored impeachment. He is expected to vote yes to impeach.
One new Democratic congressman, Jared Golden of Maine, said he would vote to impeach on abuse of power but not obstruction.
Expect the House to take the nation’s us-vs-them political culture out for a spin before a global audience. But it’s not clear the proceedings are changing many minds.
Trump’s approval ratings have held steady since a whistleblower report and a partial transcript revealed he had pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Democrats.
Wide shares of Democrats both disapprove of the president and support impeachment, while wide shares of Republicans approve of Trump and want him to remain in office.