House impeaches Pres. Trump on incitement of insurrection charge

Politics

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” Wednesday. This is the second time he has been impeached during his single term in office.

With the Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops inside and out, the House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump with 10 Republicans voting to impeach Trump, one week after the deadly riot at the Capitol Complex.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday said his chamber would begin its impeachment trial for President Donald Trump next week after the House of Representatives transmits the article of impeachment, pushing the process into the opening days of President-elect Joe Biden’s term.

Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, had pressured McConnell to agree to bring the Senate back under emergency circumstances to take up Trump’s impeachment before he leaves office.

“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,” McConnell said in a statement.

Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 to acquit. He is the first president to be impeached twice. None has been convicted by the Senate.

While the first impeachment of Trump last year brought no Republican votes in the House, a small but significant number of leaders and other lawmakers broke with the party to join Democrats on Wednesday.

Ten Republican lawmakers, including third-ranking House GOP leader Liz Cheney, voted to impeach Trump.

FILE – In this Dec. 17, 2019 file photo, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” said Cheney 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.”

Republican Reps. Cheney of Wyoming, John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington State, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington State, Peter Meijer of Michigan, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, David Valadao of California and Tom Rice of South Carolina all voted to impeach Trump.

President-elect Joe Biden responded to the impeachement with a statement hours later, saying in part:

Today, the members of the House of Representatives exercised the power granted to them under our Constitution and voted to impeach and hold the president accountable. It was a bipartisan vote cast by members who followed the Constitution and their conscience. The process continues to the Senate. 

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. 

President-elect Joe Biden

As the chamber began debating impeachment earlier Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on lawmakers to hold the president accountable.

“We know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country. He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” she said.

Meanwhile, Republicans made speeches Wednesday urging the House not to impeach Trump.

Despite arguing against impeachment, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week.

“He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,” said McCarthy, a Trump ally who has repeated the president’s unfounded claims about the validity of the 2020 presidential election.

“Instead of moving forward as a unifying force, the majority in the House is choosing to divide us further,” Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole said on the House floor. “Let us look forward, not backward. Let us come together, not apart. Let us celebrate the peaceful transition of power to a new president rather than impeaching an old president.”

Confronting his potential place in history, Trump warned lawmakers off it, suggesting it was the drive to oust him rather than his actions around the violent riot that was dividing the country.

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 in Washington. The President is traveling to Texas. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

“To continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger,” Trump said Tuesday, his first remarks to reporters since last week’s violence.

A Capitol police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. Lawmakers had to scramble for safety and hide as rioters took control of the Capitol and delayed by hours the last step in finalizing Biden’s victory.

On Wednesday, Pres. Trump addressed recent reports of potentially armed protests being planned in D.C. and in other state capitols.

“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind. That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers,” he said.

On Tuesday, the House tried first to push Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to intervene, passing a resolution Tuesday night calling on them to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump from office. The resolution urged Pence to “declare what is obvious to a horrified Nation: That the President is unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of his office.”

Hours before the vote, however, Pence made it clear he would not do so. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Pence said it was “time to unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden.”

Unprecedented events, with just over a week remaining in Trump’s term, are unfolding as the FBI warned ominously of potential armed protests by Trump loyalists ahead of Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. Capitol Police urged lawmakers to be on alert.

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.

The impeachment bill draws from Trump’s own false statements about his election defeat to Biden. Judges across the country, including some nominated by Trump, have repeatedly dismissed cases challenging the election results, and former Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, has said there was no sign of widespread fraud.

Like the resolution to invoke the 25th Amendment, the impeachment bill also details Trump’s pressure on state officials in Georgia to “find” him more votes and his White House rally rant to “fight like hell” by heading to the Capitol.

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.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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