In his last week in office, President Donald Trump finally earned an outstanding honor in the history books: the first president in US history to be impeached twice.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the House of Representatives was still voting, but crossed the threshold necessary to impeach Trump on a charge of “inciting insurgency”, seven days after the president launched a violent mob that took to storming the United States Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the 2020 Election Results and then harm – or kill – senior federal government officials. The impeachment vote took place on the very floor where, on January 6, lawmakers, staff and journalists huddled, fearing for their lives as armed extremists tried to force their way through.
Unlike the first indictment, the second included Republican support – including from the Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). The third-ranked House Republican said in a Tuesday night statement that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
The willingness of even a few House Republicans to break completely with an incumbent president, increasingly avoided by his party leadership since January 6, is a striking difference between this impeachment and the last. In December 2019, when the House voted to impeach Trump for abuse of power after using US military aid to coerce a foreign government to do him a favor, no Republican supported the impeachment.
The passage of the impeachment article now puts the spotlight on the US Senate, which is required to quickly conduct a trial and vote on Trump’s impeachment. But the house is expected to be out of session until the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, and a deal between party leaders, Senses, Mitchell McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), would have been necessary to bring the senators back for an emergency sitting. According to Washington Post, McConnell told Schumer he won’t agree, while making sure a trial doesn’t begin until after Biden is sworn in.
But even though McConnell refused to recall the Senate early, he left the door open to his support for impeachment.
“While the press has been full of speculation,” he said in a statement Wednesday afternoon, referring to a New York Times report on Tuesday that said McConnell was prepared to put Trump to the curb . “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 in the Senate.
The purpose of proceeding in the Senate, even after Trump leaves, is to return the other punishment of impeachment: a lifetime ban from holding federal office, which nearly all Democrats – and some Republicans – believe Trump largely deserves his role in last week’s violence.
One of them, Rep Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), made the change clear. “I’m not afraid of losing my job,” she said from Parliament, “but I’m afraid my country will fail.”
However, the overwhelming majority of the House GOP conference did not believe Trump deserved a rebuke – even though his leaders were willing to admit he fueled the violence. “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by Mafia rioters,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), a simple, but notable factual acknowledgment , Trump’s most influential ally on Capitol Hill over the past four years.
Nonetheless, McCarthy – who voted to overturn the 2020 election results after crowds swept the Capitol – spoke out against impeachment, saying: ‘Here’s what an impeachment vote would do: it would divide more this nation would further fuel the flames of partisan division. Rather, he suggested a bipartisan investigation into the events of January 6 and a vote to censor the president.
Before McCarthy spoke up, the president’s most vocal supporters came to the House to show his lasting hold over much of the party. They argued that Trump’s impeachment would disregard proper Congressional process and, at the very least, prevent the country from the necessary healing – even though just days ago many of them amplified the very conspiracies that prevented post-election healing and fueled the January 6 violence. .
Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), who received Trump’s Presidential Medal of Freedom on Monday for his service to Trump, ticked off a list of his accomplishments as president. “They want to annul the president,” said Jordan, who supports an effort to kick Cheney out of the GOP leadership because of his support for impeachment.
Another Trump ally, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) – who has reportedly been in contact with organizers of the ‘stop the steal’ rally – issued a disturbing warning that moving forward with impeachment would make Trump a “martyr” and would even lead to more conflict. “Don’t spray the remaining embers of this movement with gasoline,” Biggs said.
Amid debate in the House, Trump – banned from Twitter – released a statement through the White House press office, insisting that “there must be no violence, no breaking the law. and NO vandalism of any kind. It 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 people down. “
Shortly after its publication, Jordan read the missive on the floor of the House.
Democrats, for their part, urged their GOP colleagues: If Trump’s role in inciting the riot didn’t do it for them, what would he do? “He has to go,” said President Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “He represents a clear and present danger to the nation we all love.”
Other lawmakers scoffed at Republican claims that it was actually time to move on. “It’s a little hard to hear that these people wouldn’t try to destroy our government and kill us if we weren’t so mean to them,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said, ready. to lead The Democrat is pursuing the case against Trump in the Senate.
And some Democrats couldn’t help but draw a line until the final arraignment. “Simply put, we told you,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), who will soon take a prominent position in the Biden administration.
The indictment article the House approved was drafted as its authors took refuge together in their offices during Wednesday’s attack. Democrats quickly rallied around one leader of incitement to insurgency; the final draft, presented on Monday, simply stated that Trump was “seriously endangering the security of the United States and its government institutions … interfering with the peaceful transfer of power … and endangering a co-equal branch of government.” The resolution went straight to the ground on Wednesday, preceded by none of the formal hearings that accompanied Trump’s latest impeachment.
A report released Tuesday night by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, the traditional adjudicatory committee for impeachment, laid out the timing of Trump’s encouragement of the January 6 rally, his main role in fostering electoral plots that inspired the attack, and its failure to condemn or quash the insurgents. “There is no question that the president encouraged – and his actions likely resulted in – the terrorist attack that took place,” the report read.
The Judicial Committee report also laid the groundwork for an indictment that Republicans decried as another unfounded witch hunt, despite clear evidence strewn across the shattered U.S. Capitol a week later.
“The impeachment is not a punishment for previous wrongs, but a protection against future wrongs. It is true that the president’s remaining tenure is limited – but a president capable of stirring up a violent insurgency on Capitol Hill is still capable of greater dangers, ”the report read. “He must be removed from office as quickly as the Constitution allows. He must also be disqualified to prevent the reappearance of the extraordinary threat he presents.
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