PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Donald Trump has officially become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House, and with his fate now in the hands of the Republican-controlled Senate, Rhode Island’s delegation says lawmakers should continue to hold him accountable.
Rhode Island U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, both Democrats, agreed with the House’s decision to impeach Trump on two charges — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Reed said now that the proceedings are moving to the Senate, he hopes his colleagues will all take the trial seriously.
“No senator relishes this responsibility, but every senator must take it seriously and with an understanding that our system of checks and balances is on trial as well,” Reed said in a statement.
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Whitehouse agreed, saying the Senate must “consider these articles and the underlying evidence with all the seriousness and care the Founders intended.”
Both Reed and Whitehouse argued that necessary witnesses should testify during the Senate trial.
Democratic Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin both voted in favor of impeachment Wednesday evening.
Cicilline declared on Twitter that Trump is “unfit to serve” as president.
“He abused the enormous power of his office for his own personal benefit when he solicited foreign interference to help him in his re-election campaign,” Cicilline said. “His conduct is a continued threat to our democracy and the national security of our country.”
Langevin called the impeachment vote a “sad day for our nation.”
“The evidence is clear, and the facts are not in question. President Trump has consistently engaged in a pattern of behavior inconsistent with the rule of law,” Langevin said in a statement. “He has undermined the checks and balances we rely on by obstructing Congress at every turn.”
No Republicans voted for impeachment, and Democrats had only slight defections on their side. The votes for impeachment were 230-197-1 on the first charge, 229-198-1 on the second. (Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a presidential candidate, voted “present” on both.)
While attending a rally in Michigan Wednesday night, Trump labeled the impeachment as “a suicide march” for the Democratic Party.
“Crazy Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats have branded themselves with an eternal mark of shame,” Trump told the crowd. “It’s a disgrace.”
The Senate trial is expected to begin in January. A two-thirds majority would be necessary for Trump’s conviction and removal.
If the Senate convicts Trump, Vice President Mike Pence would become commander in chief.