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A prayer, then a battle

Members rushed to the front of the House, holding aloft red and green voting slips representing “nay” or “yea”, each one signed, for the clerks to count. 

It was passed, 230 votes to 197. A flutter of applause broke out on the Democrat benches before Ms Pelosi silenced her congressmen with a slice of the arm and a deathly look. She has insisted the process is sad and solemn. 

The second article, obstruction of Congress, passed too, 229 to 197. The biggest surprise of the night was that Tulsi Gabbard, the maverick Hawaii congresswoman running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, had voted ‘present’.

She had not backed impeachment, explaining later that US voters should decide Mr Trump’s fate at the election next November.

Nonetheless, the deed was done – Donald J Trump, impeached. Not a single Republican had voted for it. The political divide was laid bare. 

One moment of history, one America, but two political tribes who have scarcely looked so far apart, both in the House and in the country beyond.

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