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Washington — Michigan House members voted along party lines to impeach President Donald Trump over his handling of foreign aid to Ukraine. 

Michigan's seven House Democrats, including two freshmen lawmakers elected in 2018 in Republican-leaning districts, and independent U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Cascade Township, backed the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress late Wednesday. The articles of impeachment were approved by margins of 230-197 and 229-198. 

All six Michigan Republicans voted against both articles of impeachment.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, was the first Michigan Democrat to take the floor during the six-hour debate on what he said was “a sad day for our country and for our democracy."

“The president has abused the powers of his office, betrayed the public trust, and undermined America’s national security by pressuring a foreign government to interfere in our election for his own personal gain,” he said. “In this moment in our history, the Constitution is clear. The remedy for such misconduct by a president is impeachment.”

U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden, who is retiring from Congress at the end of 2020, warned lawmakers that “recognize that impeachment was intended to be a safety valve, rarely used, only when a president acts in such a blatant and immoral manner as to threaten the very basis of our republic.”

He accused Democrats leading the effort of “weaponizing impeachment, making it another election tool.

"The issue is not whether we agree with or like the president’s rhetoric, political tactics, use of Twitter, policy choices or his political rallies," Mitchell said. 

“... It is clear President Trump’s actions as described in these articles do not constitute treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors. You simply don’t like him," he continued.  

Lawmakers have a duty to impeach the 45th president, said Amash, a Trump critic who left the Republican Party in July.

“President Donald J. Trump has abused and violated the public trust by using his high office to solicit the aid of a foreign power, not for the benefit of the United States of America, but instead for his personal and political gain,” said Amash, who has been floated by some Democrats as a possible impeachment case manager for the U.S. Senate trial.

“His actions reflect precisely the type of conduct the framers of the Constitution intended to remedy through the power of impeachment, and it is our duty to impeach him.” 

Freshmen Democratic Reps. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, and Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills, voted for impeachment but didn't make floor speeches explaining their reasoning. They represent Republican-leaning districts and have been subjected to attack ads for backing the impeachment inquiry.

Slotkin announced her decision Monday ahead of a constituent meeting in Rochester, while Stevens released her statement Tuesday.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell of Dearborn wrote a New York Times op-ed published Wednesday after saying Tuesday she would vote to impeach. Ahead of Wednesday's vote, Dingell cast the proceedings as somber occasion. 

"I think this is one of the saddest days that I can remember," she said in an interview with MSNBC. "I remember watching John on the Clinton one, and I didn’t understand how awful a vote this was. ... But when we take this oath of office, it’s about defending our democracy." 

Michigan's senior congressional Republican, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton of St. Joseph, said last week that he would reject the two articles of impeachment. 

"It has been highly partisan and clearly motivated by what I believe is an attempt to overturn the last election," Upton said in a statement. "I get it. Democrats aren’t happy with the result. But the time to vote on the next president is next November, not next week."

U.S. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, called the articles of impeachment against Trump, which he said he would “proudly vote no” on, baseless.  

“Our founding fathers never intended impeachment to be a one-sided political weapon,” he said. “Sadly, the majority has reduced this serious Constitutional action to a purely partisan tactic to take down President Trump. ... By any objective standards, the Democrats impeachment case is the thinnest imaginable. There’s no impeachment case before us today. It’s a complete and total sham.”    

U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, who recently walked back statements she made on a Detroit area podcast in late November suggesting the possibility of Congress censuring Trump instead of impeaching him, announced ahead of Wednesday's vote that she intended to vote yes on both articles of impeachment.

“The facts are conclusive,” she said. “The president attempted to use the power of the powerful office of president to force Ukraine to influence our 2020 election. In the process, President Trump jeopardized our national security and withheld vital military assistance intended to prevent further Russian aggression to our region.”  

U.S. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, cast the debate about impeaching Trump in patriotic terms, saying her of her constituents: "Their common sense and understanding of what is right and wrong is centered on why they oppose any person using the most powerful position in the world for personal gain.

“Doing nothing here is not an option. Looking away from these crimes against our country is not an option. This is about protecting the future of our nation and our democracy from corruption, abuse of power, criminal coverups and bribery.”  

With the House having now voted to impeach Trump, the Republican-led Senate will be required to conduct a trial that is expected to result in the president's acquital, preventing him from being removed from office. 

Michigan's Democratic senators promised late Wednesday pledged to push for a fair trial of the allegations against Trump. 

"I approach the impeachment trial with great seriousness and a heavy heart," U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, said in a statement. "It is my constitutional duty to thoughtfully consider the articles of impeachment, listen to the evidence, and make a decision that honors our nation’s values and our fundamental belief that no one is above the law. That’s what I intend to do.

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, added: "Abuse of office and obstruction of Congress are very serious charges that deserve solemn consideration. We must have a fair and non-partisan process, and I will thoroughly evaluate the facts that are presented to the Senate." 

klaing@detroitnews.com

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