House Impeaches Trump In Bipartisan Rebuke for Inciting Capitol Hill Attack
WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon impeached President Donald Trump for his role in last week’s deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.
With the vote, Trump, who was last impeached by the House 13 months ago, becomes the first president in history to be impeached twice.
The final vote was 232-197 with 10 Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues. That’s the most members of a president’s own party ever to vote for his impeachment.
Among them was Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking member of Republican leadership, who is now embroiled in an uproar within her own party.
The other Republicans jumping ranks were Rep. John Katko, of New York, Adam Kinzinger, of Illinois, Tom Rice, of South Carolina, Fred Upton, of Michigan, Peter Meijer, of Michigan, Anthony Gonzalez, of Ohio, Jaime Herrera Beutler, of Washington, Davis Valadao, of Calif., and Dan Newhouse, of Washington.
Trump later released a video statement in which he made no mention of the impeachment but appealed to his supporters to refrain from any further violence or disruption of Biden’s inauguration.
“Like all of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity at the Capitol last week,” he said, making his first condemnation of the attack.
He appealed for unity “to move forward” and said, “Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. … No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement.”
The impeachment vote transpired amid rising apprehension over threats of potential violence between now and next Wednesday’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
It also comes as thousands of National Guard and other law enforcement personnel pour into Washington, D.C. to prevent it.
Before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor, calling Trump “a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
If convicted by the Senate, he would be barred from ever holding office again.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that the trial likely would not begin until after Biden is sworn in next week. McConnell has also said that he does not know how he will vote in the trial.
In a statement, McConnell said, “The House of Representatives has voted to impeach the president. The Senate process will now begin at our first regular meeting following receipt of the article from the House.
“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,” he continued. “The Senate has held three presidential impeachment trials. They have lasted 83 days, 37 days, and 21 days respectively.
“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. This is not a decision I am making; it is a fact. The president-elect himself stated last week that his inauguration on January 20 is the ‘quickest’ path for any change in the occupant of the presidency.
“In light of this reality, I believe it will best serve our nation if Congress and the executive branch spend the next seven days completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden Administration,” McConnell said.
The vote followed two hours of debate in which Democrats argued that Trump had betrayed his oath, while Republicans argued that impeachment would only further divide the country.
Rep. Jim Jordan, of Ohio, representing the Republicans, said that Democrats have an “obsession” with the president.
“They want to cancel the president. It’s always been about getting the president no matter what,” he said.
But Rep. David Cicilline , D-R.I., who was serving as a House Impeachment manager, said obsession had nothing to do with today’s vote. Instead, he maintained, it was the appropriate response to Trump’s summoning his supporters to Washington and then directing them to march on the Capitol.
The impeachment article recounts Trump’s words at a rally at the Ellipse Wednesday morning, when he told the crowd “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Minutes later, the crowd stormed the Capitol.
“They answered his call for insurrection,” Cicilline said. “They stormed the citadel of our democracy … They sought above all else to seize control of our government in the name of Donald Trump.”
Many Republicans, including Rep. Tom Cole, of Oklahoma, urged his colleagues not to move forward with the impeachment, saying it would only inflame passions further than they already are, and that Trump has only days left in his presidency anyway.
But even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, an ardent ally and defender of the president exhibited a more measured tone on Wednesday, acknowledging Biden won the election, and saying that Trump bore some responsibility for the attack.
Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., explained his decision to support impeachment this way.
“When the history books write about the failed insurrection of January 6, 2021 that was incited by the President of the United States, there is a threshold question that we must answer. What do we want the next paragraph to say?,” he said in a written statement.
“I do not believe that the next paragraph should say that Congress did nothing and that there were no consequences for the riot or the actions that incited it. I do not want that next paragraph to say that Congress allowed the president the ability to use the remainder of his term in office to threaten our republic. I do not want the lesson to my kids – or to any Americans – to be that actions like these are acceptable and can happen without consequence.”
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