The US House of Representatives Wednesday impeached President Donald Trump. It declared that Trump incited insurrection last week, when he implored thousands of his supporters to march to the Capitol to try to overturn his reelection loss, prompting a mob demonstration that turned into deadly mayhem.
With just a week remaining in Trump’s four-year term as the US leader, the 232-197 majority for impeachment was made up of Democratic Party lawmakers, joined by 10 of Trump’s fellow Republicans. The US House vote made Trump the first of the country’s 45 presidents in its 245-year-history to be impeached twice.
The US Senate had acquitted Trump a year ago in the first impeachment case. And now he will face a new trial in the weeks after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated next Wednesday.
A two-thirds vote in the politically divided Senate would be needed to convict him. If convicted, a simple-majority vote could bar him from holding federal office again.
Article of impeachment
The deputy floor director of the US House, Latrice Powell, lays down pens and the article of impeachment against US President Donald Trump, which the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi was set to sign, at the Capitol in Washington, January 13, 2021.
Moments after the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell again rejected the possibility of an immediate trial.
“There is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in. Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said a trial could begin this week or next. “But make no mistake; there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate. There will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors,” he said.
Schumer is set to become majority leader when Biden is inaugurated.
Trump releases a video
For his part, President Trump released a video late Wednesday in which he made no mention of the impeachment but condemned the assault on the US Capitol and pleaded for calm.
“I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week. Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement,” Trump said. “Making America great again has always been about defending the rule of law.”
Damaging, deadly raid
The US House impeachment vote came a week to the day after rioters stormed past overwhelmed police into the US Capitol, the worldwide symbol of American democracy, during the congressional certification of the Electoral College vote showing that Biden had defeated Trump in the November election.
The throng of Trump supporters stormed into some congressional offices and ransacked them, littered the floors with government documents and scuffled with police. Five people were left dead, with three protesters dying from medical emergencies, another fatally shot by police, and a police officer killed in what authorities are investigating as a homicide.
As Wednesday’s impeachment debate started, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the chamber, called Trump a threat to “liberty, self-government and the rule of law.”
But a staunch Trump supporter, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, said impeachment “doesn’t unite the country. This is about politics.” Democrats, he said, “want to cancel the president.”
The thin Democratic majority in the House had enough votes on its own to impeach Trump a week before his term ends at noon on January 20 and Biden, a Washington political figure for nearly 50 years, is inaugurated as the country’s new leader.
10 Republican votes
But 10 Republicans, including Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the party’s third-ranking House member, joined opposition Democrats in impeaching Trump. In announcing her vote for impeachment Tuesday night, she said there “has never been a greater betrayal” by a US president.
The US House, with no Republican votes, impeached Trump in late 2019 for trying to get Ukraine to dig up negative information on Biden ahead of the November election. But he was acquitted in February after a 20-day Senate trial.
Biden won the presidency in a decisive Electoral College vote that is determinative in US presidential elections. Congress last Thursday certified the Electoral College outcome, but not before the pro-Trump mob delayed the certification for hours before authorities restored order.
‘Brought shame to the presidency’
As the House debated the ground rules for the impeachment proceeding, Democratic Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, “We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the president of the United States,” adding that “the cause of this violence resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” the White House address.
At a rally a week ago, Trump urged his supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight” to overturn his election loss.
US House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., speaks during debate ahead of a House of Representatives vote on impeachment against President Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege. He said Trump had “brought shame and disorder to the presidency” and had “weaponized hate.”