The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach President Trump for “high crimes and misdemeanors” — specifically, for inciting an insurrection against the federal government at the U.S. Capitol.
Just one week before he will leave office, Trump has now become the first U.S. president to be impeached twice.
Wednesday’s vote came a week after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a chaotic scene that left several people dead.
Ten Republicans broke party ranks to vote in favor of impeachment, including Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who chairs the House Republican Conference.
“None of this would have happened without the President,” Cheney said in a statement Tuesday explaining her vote. “The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
The House voted 232 to 197 to impeach Trump, after a few hours of debate that were divided evenly between the parties. Because of the tight schedule, many lawmakers were only allotted a minute, or less, in which to state their positions.
The Democratic-led House approved the new rebuke in the same chamber where one week ago, members of Congress fled an oncoming tide of rioters who had been stoked by the president and his false claims that a bogus election process caused his defeat by President-elect Joe Biden.
Calling last Wednesday “a day of fire that we all experienced,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said it followed Trump’s sustained attempts to spread untruths about the 2020 vote and to influence state election officials to overturn results.
Impeachment, Pelosi said, is “a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the republic will be safe from this man, who is so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear, and that hold us together.”
Many Republicans who voted against the measure criticized the impeachment process as rushed and counter-productive. But impeachment supporters said Trump’s attempt to derail Congress from certifying the election results spurred an act of domestic terrorism, making the president unfit for office.
In his remarks, Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy of California sought to strike a balance — between blaming Trump for his role in fanning the protest’s devolution into a riot, and speaking out against impeachment.
“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” McCarthy said. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”
But McCarthy, who himself objected to certifying the Electoral College results, said that instead of impeaching Trump, Congress should form a fact-finding commission and consider a formal censure of the president.
The Democratic-led House impeached him in December 2019 for his role in the Ukraine affair. On Tuesday, Trump called the move to impeach him again “ridiculous.”
If the Senate votes to convict Trump — an outcome that is far from certain — he would be barred from holding any federal office. An impeachment trial will not begin before Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office said on Wednesday that the chamber, which is currently held by Republicans, will not convene again until the transfer of power is complete.
The article of impeachment, set forth in House Resolution 24, states:
- “prior to the joint session of Congress held on January 6, 2021, to count the votes of the electoral college, President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the presidential election results were fraudulent and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by state or federal officials;
- “shortly before the joint session commenced, President Trump reiterated false claims to a crowd near the White House and willfully made statements to the crowd that encouraged and foreseeably resulted in lawless action at the Capitol;
- “members of the crowd, incited by President Trump, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol and engaged in other violent, destructive, and seditious acts, including the killing of a law enforcement officer;
- “President Trump’s conduct on January 6, 2021, followed his prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the presidential election, which included a threatening phone call to the Secretary of State of Georgia on January 2, 2021;
- “President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government, threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government; and
- “by such conduct, President Trump warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold U.S. office.”