Congress impeaches President Trump a second time
By ALAN SMASON
(WASHINGTON) – Citing their abject disapproval at what they determined was President Donald Trump’s complicity in the January 6 riot that caused the deaths of six Americans and injured dozens more, the United States House of Representatives debated and then passed a single Article of Impeachment for “incitement of insurrection.”
The president, who has only six days remaining to his term of office, became the first sitting president to be impeached twice, a stain that will likely diminish his importance as an historical figure.
Because of the Senate rules put in place by senior Republican leaders, a trial in the U.S. Senate is unlikely until after the new term of office begins for President elect Joe Biden, the date which coincides with the change in leadership in Congress when Democrats will control both the House and the Senate.
Led by House Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third most powerful member of the House, 10 Republicans crossed party lines and voted with the Democrats, making it the largest number of party members to vote for an impeachment of their own party’s president in U.S. history.
In a statement released before the vote, Cheney said Trump had “summoned this mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.” She added that his actions constituted “the greatest betrayal” of any U.S. president.
Representatives rose throughout the day to express their disapproval or their backing of President Trump. In pushing back against the Article of Impeachment, Republicans insisted that such a move would further antagonize an already divided nation. While most Republicans’ votes stayed within party lines, nearly every impassioned member of Congress who spoke went on the record to disapprove of the violence that laid siege to the U.S. Capitol only a week before.
Representative Tom Rice (R-SC.) was typical of many Republicans, who had supported President Trump throughout his campaign and term of office. “I have backed this President through thick and thin for four years,” he said in a tweet on Wednesday. “I campaigned for him and voted for him twice. But, this utter failure is inexcusable.”
Many Republicans who sided with the Democrats cited Trump’s actions as the reason for their vote. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) was adamant that “if these actions–the Article II branch inciting a deadly insurrection against the Article I branch–are not worthy of impeachment, then what is an impeachable offense?”
Still others cited the president’s inaction and lack of leadership during the crisis, which shut down the counting of the ballots for the incoming U.S. President and forced the evacuation of the Congressional rank and file.
Maryland representative Jamie Raskin, who will be the lead impeachment manager in the Senate where the trial will occur, called the president’s inaction and failure of leadership “He is a clear and present danger to the people.”
While there may be a majority of U.S. Republican Senators who will side with their Democratic allies during the trial phase after President Biden’s term begins, it is thought unlikely that 17 senators will vote to convict Trump. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said on Wednesday that he has yet to make up his mind about whether he will vote to convict President Trump or not.
The final tally, which was passed around 2:45 p.m. CST was passed with 232 votes for impeachment and 197 votes against. Four representatives did not vote.
In signing the document, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA.) said Wednesday evening that impeachment 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.”