Donald Trump has become the third US President to be impeached.

The House of Representatives voted to impeach on both charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after hours of debate.

However it is unlikely he will become the first president to actually be removed from office by the process.

He will face a trial next month in the Senate, which is controlled by members of his own Republican party, who are unlikely to remove him.

Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over the trial and even before the result in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were negotiating over the conduct of the trial.

The vote to impeach Mr Trump was expected, with the vote on party lines handing the victory to the Democrats.

Opening the debate, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus Rep. Andy Biggs forced a roll call vote in a motion to adjourn the House, the first of several efforts to delay proceedings.

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The motion did not pass.

Mr Trump had compared the drive to impeach him to the 17th century Salem Witch trials, when 20 people suspected of witchcraft were killed in the US.

He claimed those people were afforded “more due process” than him.

House majority leader Nancy Pelosi brings down the gavel on the first vote to impeach President Trump
Image: House majority leader Nancy Pelosi brings down the gavel on the first vote to impeach President Trump

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed Democrats had been left with no choice but to push for impeachment.

“If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty,” she said.

“It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice.”

She added: “It is a matter of fact that the president is an ongoing threat to our national security and the integrity of our elections – the basis of our democracy.”

But Republican Representative Doug Collins said Mr Trump’s opponents had begun plotting for impeachment even before his dealings with Ukraine, which form the core of the case against him, became public in September.

“To Democrats, it’s politics, not facts, that matter,” he said.

His colleague Barry Loudermilk compared Mr Trump’s plight to when “Jesus was falsely accused of treason”.

“Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers during that sham trial. Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats have afforded this president,” he declared.

And Mike Kelly, another Republican representative, recalled the “horrific act” of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, branding Wednesday “another date that will live in infamy”.

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Only two presidents have been impeached – Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998.

Richard Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal instead.

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