• The US House of Representatives has now impeached Donald Trump for the second time.
• Ten Republicans in the House supported the impeachment.
• Trump, in video message released after the vote, disavowed violence by supporters and called for calm. He did not address his impeachment.
• The US Senate will now consider whether or not to convict Trump. A two-thirds majority is required for conviction.
• Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has issued a statement saying a Senate trial will not proceed until after Joe Biden is sworn in as president.
• McConnell says he remains undecided on convicting Trump.
• The Democratic House Whip says “there’s a good chance that there will be a conviction in the Senate”.
President Donald Trump has become the first American president to be impeached twice after the US House of Representatives voted 232-197 to impeach him for “incitement of insurrection”. It is the most bipartisan impeachment in US history, with ten members of Trump’s own party turning against him to vote in favour of impeachment. The historic moment comes a week after Trump encouraged loyalists to “fight like hell” against election results, prompting a mob of his supporters to storm the US Capitol.
Trump, in video released after his impeachment, disavowed violence by supporters. The President again called for calm amid reports of Trump supporters planning armed protests in the lead up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. He did not address the impeachment vote.
“Mob violence goes against everything I believe in… no supporter of mine could ever threaten or harass their fellow Americans,” Trump said. “Today I am calling on all Americans to overcome the passions of the moment and join together as one American people.”
The New York Times is reporting that Trump, even after releasing his video, had to be reassured by his aides that it was the right thing to do. The President is reportedly furious with Republican leadership for what he considers a lack of loyalty. Trump also wanted to testify in his own defence at the impeachment proceedings, The Times reports.
Biden has responded to Trump’s impeachment by calling on the Senate to juggle their multiple responsibilities. Biden said the attack on the Capitol was “carried out by political extremists and domestic terrorists, who were incited to this violence by President Trump. It was an armed insurrection against the United States of America.”
However, Biden said, “this nation also remains in the grip of a deadly virus and a reeling economy. I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.”
During debate on the articles of impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Republicans and Democrats to “search their souls” ahead of the historic vote. Trump “must go,” Pelosi said. “He is a clear and present danger to the nation we all love.” Following the vote, Pelosi signed the articles of impeachment.
SENATE TRIAL YET TO COME
Now that Trump has impeached in the House, a two-thirds majority of the Republican-led Senate is needed to convict him, meaning at least 17 Republicans in the 100-member chamber would have to find him guilty. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell has sent a note to his colleagues informing them that he remains undecided on whether to convict Trump.
“I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell wrote. Actually removing Trump from office is unlikely before the January 20 inauguration now that McConnell has said a Senate trial will not begin until after Biden is sworn in as the new president.
“Given the rules, procedures, and Senate precedents that govern presidential impeachment trials, there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week,” McConnell wrote in a statement.
Democratic House Whip James Clyburn told CNN “there’s a good chance that there will be a conviction in the Senate” now that Republicans are turning on Trump.
“I think that Mitch McConnell and a few others recognise that that’s the quickest way to get him out of their hair so-to-speak,” Clyburnsaid. “So these articles will go over there. There will be people who will conduct the trial. Our managers will do a good job of that. They don’t have to do a good job, to tell you the truth. Just put up the videos and bring in the people who are the recipients of these phone calls. I think there will be enough on the record and so, he could very well get a conviction.”
TEN HOUSE REPUBLICANS VOTE TO IMPEACH TRUMP
Ten Republican House members — including Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, the No 3 House GOP leader — voted for impeachment.
The GOP votes were in sharp contrast to the unanimous support for Trump among House Republicans when he was impeached by Democrats in December 2019.
Cheney led the GOP opposition to Trump, saying in a statement, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
The ten House Republicans who voted for impeachment:
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming
Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington
Rep. John Katko of New York
Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler of Washington
Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois
Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan
Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan
Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio
Rep. David Goncalves Valadao of California
‘THIS WAS AN ATTACK ON AMERICA – INCITED BY TRUMP – WE MUST REMOVE HIM’
Democrat Representative Pramila Jayapal hit out at Donald Trump over the Capitol riots, saying earlier on social media that the “serious attack on America” was “incited by Trump”.
She has asked on her colleagues to impeach the President.
“They had bombs. They killed several people. They had nooses, zip ties, and pipes. They came armed & with bulletproof vests. They chanted ‘Hang Mike Pence.’ They hunted the Speaker of the House.
“This was a serious attack on America—and it was incited by Trump. We must remove him.”
TRUMP IS A ‘TRAITOR TO OUR COUNTRY’: DEMOCRAT ANNA ESHOO
Representative Anna Eshoo, a Democrat from California, called President Trump a “traitor to our country” during her speech on the House floor.
Eshoo said: “future generations are not going to know the names of each member in the chamber today, in voting, but they will know what we did and why. We must impeach the President, because he incited a mob that attacked the Capitol of the United States. The tabernacle of our democracy.”
She added that Trump is “incapable of honouring his oath and our constitution, and he has proven to be dangerous.”
“I will vote to impeach this traitor to our country,” Eshoo said.
REPUBLICANS WARN OF DIVISION
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a frequent Trump ally, earlier said that impeachment could “do great damage to the institutions of government” and warned his GOP colleagues not to support it.
Graham has stayed in touch with the increasingly isolated president, and Graham’s message to fellow Republicans on impeachment is that those “who legitimise this process, you are doing great damage not only to the country, the future of the presidency, but also to the party”.
He said the millions of people who have supported Trump and his agenda “should not be demonised because of the despicable actions of a seditious mob” and is now urging “President-elect Biden to rise to the occasion and instruct his party to call off post-presidential impeachment proceedings”.
Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California, a top Trump ally, also earlier scrambled to suggest a lighter censure instead, but that option crumbled.
Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio revived Trump’s false claims about the election results at the heart of the impeachment charge, drawing sharp rebukes from McGovern and others that “big lies” were fuelling the nation’s divide.
Republican Missouri Representative Jason Smith called the swift proceeding a “reckless” impeachment. He said, “This will only bring up the hate and fire more than ever before.”
Trump himself spoke out against impeachment yesterday, saying “to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger.”
Incoming Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene says she will respond to the day’s events by introducing articles of impeachment against Joe Biden on the first day of his presidency.
FBI WARNS OF VIOLENCE TO COME
With just over a week remaining in Trump’s term, the FBI warned ominously of potential armed protests by Trump loyalists ahead of Biden’s inauguration. Capitol Police urged lawmakers to be on alert. Charges of sedition are being considered for rioters.
With new security in place, lawmakers were required to pass through metal detectors to enter the House chamber, not far from where Capitol police, guns drawn, had barricaded the door against the rioters. Some Republican lawmakers complained about the screening.
Biden has said it’s important to ensure that the “folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage — that they be held accountable”.
Fending off concerns that an impeachment trial would bog down his first days in office, the President-elect is encouraging senators to divide their time between taking up his priorities of confirming his nominees and approving Covid-19 relief while also conducting the trial.
While some have questioned impeaching the President so close to the end of his term, there is precedent.
In 1876, during the Ulysses Grant administration, War Secretary William Belknap was impeached by the House the day he resigned, and the Senate convened a trial months later. He was acquitted.
– additional reporting: AP