2021-01-13 - 18:19:59 POLITICS |
House Impeaches President Trump for Second Time
Mitch McConnell won’t convene Senate early for a trial; 10 Republicans join Democrats in voting to impeach president
The vote was 232 to 197, with all Democrats joined by 10 Republicans, in a House chamber guarded by National Guard troops stationed throughout the Capitol and its grounds.
Democrats’ push to impeach Mr. Trump just before he is set to leave office reflects many lawmakers’ deep anger at Mr. Trump’s monthslong campaign to challenge the results of the election, making false claims about election fraud and trying to twist the arms of state officials as well as Vice President Mike Pence to stay in power, culminating in his supporters’ violent actions.
“We know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion, against our country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said. “He must go—he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
Republicans, some of whom criticized Mr. Trump’s actions, said Democrats were rushing to impeach because of their longstanding animosity toward the president and would just further divide the country.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said Mr. Trump “bears responsibility” for the Capitol riot but said he opposed impeachment, calling for censure instead. “A vote to impeach would further divide this nation, a vote to impeach will further fan the flames, the partisan division,” he said.
Mr. Trump on Wednesday urged his supporters not to engage in violence. He has accepted no responsibility for the Capitol riot and has denied wrongdoing, calling the efforts to remove him from office over his comments a continuation of what he has termed a Democrat witch hunt.
In a statement released by the White House, Mr. Trump called for Americans to “help ease tensions and calm tempers,” and said violence and vandalism was “not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for.”
House Democrats’ article of impeachment alleges that Mr. Trump “willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged—and foreseeably resulted in—lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.’”
The final congressional word on Mr. Trump’s legacy will rest in the hands of the Senate, set to be split 50-50 later this month, where a two-thirds supermajority is required to convict Mr. Trump. Some GOP senators have signaled they could join Democrats, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he hadn’t decided how to vote on the matter.
It’s not known when a trial would start, though Mr. McConnell said any vote would take place after Mr. Biden becomes president on Jan. 20. If the Senate convicts Mr. Trump, it could also vote, at a lower threshold, to ban the president from ever seeking office again, as he has publicly contemplated.
Wednesday’s vote was held seven days after rioters invaded the Capitol building, halting the joint session of Congress held to certify Mr. Biden’s win and sending lawmakers and aides fleeing from the chambers with just moments to spare. The vote comes 13 months after Mr. Trump’s first impeachment in late 2019, over his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden. No Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the two articles of impeachment, and only one GOP senator voted to convict, on one count. Mr. Trump denied wrongdoing.
The action marks the fastest impeachment vote assembled in the nation’s history and makes Mr. Trump the first American president to be impeached in two separate proceedings. House Democrats introduced the article of impeachment Monday and passed it Wednesday after unsuccessfully urging Mr. Pence and members of the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to push Mr. Trump out of office.
Unlike past impeachments, there were no depositions or investigations by Congressional committees. Instead, many lawmakers cited firsthand accounts of the attack, as well as public statements by the president, in arguing for impeachment, saying Congress must send a message.
“President Trump used a litany of lies about a stolen election, and willfully incited an armed insurrection with the intent of stopping the peaceful transfer of power,” said New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee.
Rep. Chip Roy (R., Texas) called the president’s actions impeachable, but said the article of impeachment was flawed and he would vote no.
“Let us condemn that which must be condemned and do so loudly,” he said on the House floor. “But let us do it the right way—with deliberation, and without disastrous side effects.”
House GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) was the most prominent Republican to side with Democrats and vote to impeach Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump “summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Ms. Cheney said.
Reflecting the splits in the caucus, Ms. Cheney faced backlash from some GOP colleagues, who circulated a petition for a special meeting to determine whether she should step down from her leadership post. Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), an influential conservative, said he was looking to see whether lawmakers could trigger a second vote on her leadership position. “I think she’s totally wrong,” he said.
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