President Donald Trump has become the first U.S. president to be impeached twice, following a bipartisan condemnation of the insurrection he orchestrated at the U.S. Capitol against Congress last week Wednesday.
In a swift move that was backed by both Democrats and Republicans, the House voted 232 to 197 to impeach Trump after attempt to invoke the 25th Amendment failed. Ten Republicans including House’s No.3 Republican, Liz Cheney of Wyoming, voted with Democrats to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection”, making it the second time in barely one year the House was voting for Trump’s impeachment.
Calls to oust Trump from office have increased since last week even from among his loyalists. Vice President Mike Pence, who defied Trump to preside over the certification of president-elect, Joe Biden’s electoral votes, was urged to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the President from office, declaring him unfit to serve and a danger to American democracy. Pence’s refusal to act has prompted the House to introduce an article of impeachment on Tuesday.
“We know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor before the vote. “He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
For weeks, Trump was exhorting and inciting his supporters to believe falsely that victory in the 2020 presidential election had been stolen from him and that constitutionally required Joint Meeting of Congress for the purpose of counting the votes of elector and announcement of the result by the president of the Senate was illegitimate and intended to complete the theft of his victory.
He also failed to take action to protect and defend Federal officers and personnel, property, buildings, and institutions were besieged by his supporters on January 6, resulting in extensive damage to the property of the United States and the deaths of more than four persons.
The event of last week Wednesday has stirred unprecedented bipartisanship between the Democrats and Republicans who have united in condemning Trump for inciting the insurrection which has undermined American democracy.
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” said Cheney.
The swift response of members of the House underscores a shift in Trump-leaning sentiment. In December 2019, only two Republicans voted to impeach Trump and the GOP-controlled Senate trial was preemptive due to the overwhelming support he had from the Republican Party.
Trump did not take responsibility for the insurrection and said what he told his supporters is “ totally appropriate”, calling the impeachment move “ridiculous.” He said the impeachment push is “causing tremendous anger” across the United States and “it’s the continuation of the Greatest Witch Hunt in the history of politics.”
The bipartisan approach to the impeachment also underlines the need for Congress to send a deterrence message for future occupants of the Oval Office, that there would be consequences for bad behavior.
In the Senate, the trial will have to wait as Majority Leader McConnell is not planning to bring the Senate back for a trial before January 19. McConnell who indicated his support for impeachment as he believes impeaching Trump will make it easier to get rid of him in the Republican Party, told his GOP colleagues he will need more time.
“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 to the Senate,” he said. McConnell, who parted ways with Trump weeks ago and vowed never to speak with him again, said investigation is still ongoing and will help to shape the votes in the Senate.
Trump’s action is believed to be the reason why the Republicans lost Georgia’s senatorial seats which has given the Democrats control of the Congress, and many Republicans don’t want further damage.
The Impeachment Article involves the 14th Amendment which prohibits any person who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States from holding any office. It is not clear if the Senate will consider banning Trump from holding public office ever again. That will mean that Trump’s hope of contesting the presidential election in 2024 will be dashed.