So this is how the impeachment of President Donald Trump is going to go.
The House this morning cast its first vote in a process that could lead to just the third Senate impeachment trial of a president in U.S. history. When Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced plans for the vote earlier this week, there was at least some promise of drama: Which House Democrats would defect? How many Republicans might defy Trump to back a formal impeachment inquiry that a few of them had signaled their support for?
After all, this was a vote that Republicans and the White House had been demanding for weeks—an official resolution that took the ambiguity and the secrecy out of the closed-door process Democrats had been conducting, a means of forcing every lawmaker to go on record in support of or in opposition to the impeachment inquiry. Pelosi, who had resisted holding such a vote for more than a month, had given in.
Yet when lawmakers gathered in the House chamber this morning, the actual tally turned out to be like so many others in Congress: party-line and partisan, a mere formality. Not a single House Republican voted with Democrats to affirm the impeachment. Not Representative Mark Amodei of Nevada, who had briefly backed the inquiry in the early going. Or Representative Will Hurd of Texas, the ex-CIA officer who earlier this month called Trump’s demand that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden “terrible.” Or even Representative Francis Rooney of Florida, who had voiced his openness to impeachment and then promptly announced his retirement from Congress.