Donald J. Trump on Wednesday became the only U.S. president to be impeached twice as House Democrats, joined by ten Republicans, charged Trump with inciting the violent insurrection on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol that eventually led to five deaths.
With the ten Republicans joining with the Democrats, it became the most bipartisan impeachment in U.S. history, with the final vote 232-197.
The article charges Trump with “incitement of insurrection,” alleging his statements to a crowd of his supporters on Jan. 6 “encouraged—and foreseeably resulted in—lawless action at the Capitol.”
The article also cites Trump’s call with Georgia election officials, in which he asked them to “find” the votes he needed to win the state, as an effort to “subvert and obstruct the certification of the results.”
“Donald John Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to the security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office,” the article concludes.
A second impeachment trial is not likely to begin before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, meaning Trump is almost guaranteed to serve out the rest of his term.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has not publicly indicated whether he supports impeachment, turned down Democrats’ request to bring lawmakers back early to start a trial on Wednesday, meaning the earliest date the upper chamber could begin proceedings is January 19, the day before Joe Biden takes office.
What To Watch For
Conviction in the Senate will be trickier: Democrats would need to recruit 17 Republican senators to support the charges in a trial that’s likely to happen after Trump leaves office. If the Senate convicts Trump, they can then hold a vote to disqualify him from ever holding office again. Past precedent says a vote to bar Trump from office would only require a simple majority vote, instead of the two-thirds majority required to convict. “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,” McConnell said in a statement minutes after the vote Wednesday. “This is not a decision I am making; it is a fact.”
For weeks leading up to the Capitol takeover, Trump refused to concede to Biden and pushed baseless conspiracy theories about fraud. Minutes before pro-Trump rioters stormed the symbol of American government, the president spoke to a raucous crowd and instructed them to march to the Capitol. “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness,” Trump said at the Jan. 6 rally, which preceded the Capitol riot. “You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” The president only half-heartedly asked supporters to be non-violent, at one point saying: “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
The ten Republicans that voted to impeachment Trump on Wednesday include: Reps. John Katko of New York, Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, Dan Newhouse of Washington, of Peter Meijer Michigan, Tom Rice of South Carolina, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, and David Valadao of California.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Trump denied all responsibility for the violence, which he denounced in muddied terms, and called impeachment “absolutely ridiculous.”
3. That’s how many presidents have been impeached: Former Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, and Trump. But only Trump has been impeached twice, however.
House Democrats impeached Trump for the first time in December 2019, charging the president with “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” after he had allegedly coerced the Ukrainian president into launching a politically-motivated investigation into Biden and his family. Trump was later acquitted by the Senate.