Donald Trump, on Wednesday, became the first President in US history to be impeached twice, when the House of Representatives voted to charge him with inciting an insurrection in last week’s violent attack on the Capitol.
Unlike the impeachment in December 2019, the ranks of the Republicans were broken with 10 of the President’s party members joining the Democrats to get him impeached.
The vote that took place in the Democratic-controlled House was 232-197 following the deadly assault on American democracy, although it looks unlikely that the swift impeachment would lead to Trump’s removal before his 4-year term ends and Democratic President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20.
The Senate’s Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, rejected the call by Democrats for an immediate impeachment trial, saying there was no way to conclude it before Trump left office. But even after he leaves the White House, a Senate conviction of Trump could lead to a vote on banning him from running for office again.
After losing the presidential election to Joe Biden, Trump, instead of accepting the results, inspired a violent and conspiracy-fueled attack on the Capitol, while calling the election fraudulent.
The congress had passed a single article of impeachment, a formal charge, accusing Trump of “incitement of insurrection,” with the speech he delivered to thousands of supporters shortly before his supporters attacked the Capitol, with the intention of disrupting the formal certification of Biden’s electoral victory over Trump.
Thousands of armed National Guards in full camouflage with rifles were seen assembled at the Capitol as the impeachment debate went on in the congress.
House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, on the floor of the house before the vote, said, “The president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country. He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
At a later ceremony, she signed the article of impeachment before it was sent to the Senate, saying she did it “sadly, with a heartbroken over what this means to our country.”
In reaction to the development, Trump on Wednesday asked his followers to remain peaceful, saying in a statement: “I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind. That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for.”
What this means
- With the impeachment of the President in the Congress, the process will now move to the Senate where, under the US Constitution, impeachment in the House triggers a trial in the Senate. A two-thirds majority would be needed to convict and remove Trump, meaning at least 17 Republicans in the 100-member chamber would have to join the Democrats.
- However, McConnell does not expect any trial to begin until the Senate returns in regular session on January 19, a day before Biden’s inauguration. The trial would proceed in the Senate even after Trump leaves office.
What you should know
- It can be recalled that Congress previously impeached Trump in December 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of the House due to his request that Ukraine should investigate Biden and his son, Hunter ahead of the election, as Democrats accused him of soliciting foreign interference to smear a domestic political rival.
- However, the Senate in February 2020 voted to keep Trump in office.
- While addressing his supporters on January 6, Trump falsely claimed he had defeated Biden, repeated unfounded allegations of widespread fraud and irregularities in a “rigged” election, and urged them to stop the steal, show strength and fight much harder.