The US Congress impeached President Donald Trump Wednesday for inciting an “insurrection” in last week’s attack on the Capitol, a stinging rebuke of the nation’s 45th president as he prepares to depart the White House after four tumultuous years.
This marks the second time Trump is being impeached, making him the first American President ever in the 245 years history of the country to be impeached twice.
And unlike in the first one, ten Republicans broke from their party – and their president – to join Democrats in approving the single article of impeachment.
The vote to impeach Trump was 232 to 197.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will decide when to transmit the article to the Senate, which must either dismiss the charge or hold a trial. At least 67 of the 100 senators are needed for conviction which would require Trump’s removal from office.
Already Senate Majority Leader, Mitch Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has indicated the Senate may not save Trump this time around, welcoming the opportunity to hold impeachment proceedings in the Senate as an opportunity to distance the Republican Party from Trump.
“Today, in a bipartisan way, the House demonstrated that no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States, that Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to our country and that once again we honored our oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help us God,” Pelosi said before signing the petition during a brief engrossment ceremony Wednesday evening.
A Senate trial is unlikely to shorten Trump’s term, which is less than a week away from ending. The Senate is scheduled to return Tuesday, the day before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“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,” he said.
Congress first impeached Trump in December 2019 for his efforts to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden but the Senate declined to convict him.
This time could be different following an unprecedented and violent assault on Congress’ home that left five people dead – including a U.S. Capitol police officer – and a nation shaken by an attack that struck at what Biden, a former senator, calls the “citadel “of democracy.
The impeachment of a president, usually a drawn-out process involving weeks of hearings and witnesses, took only a matter of days. But Democrats said steps had been taken to punish the president that would also prevent him from holding federal office again.
“America was attacked, and we must respond even when the cause of this violence resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said on the House floor before voting for impeachment. “Every moment that Donald Trump is in the White House, our nation, our freedom, is in danger.”