WASHINGTON — A majority of the U.S. House has voted to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time, just a week after he encouraged loyalists to "fight like hell" against election results — a speech that was followed by a mob of his supporters storming the U.S. Capitol. The House vote on an article of impeachment for "incitement of insurrection" was still underway Wednesday afternoon.
During debate before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Republicans and Democrats to "search their souls." Trump would be the first American president to be impeached twice.
Trump "must go," Pelosi said. "He is a clear and present danger to the nation we all love."
Actual removal seems unlikely before the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Republican leader would not agree to bring the chamber back immediately, all but ensuring a Senate trial could not begin at least until Jan. 19.
Still, McConnell did not rule out voting to convict Trump in the event of a trial. In a note to his fellow Republican senators just before the House was to begin voting, he said he is undecided.
"While the press has been full of speculation, 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," McConnell wrote.
In the House, the momentum for action has been unstoppable.
The impeachment proceedings came one week after a violent, pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol, sending lawmakers into hiding and revealing the fragility of the nation's history of peaceful transfers of power. The riot has also forced a reckoning among some Republicans, who have stood by Trump throughout his presidency and largely allowed him to spread false attacks against the integrity of the 2020 election.
While Trump's first impeachment in 2019 brought no Republican votes in the House, at least eight House Republicans announced that they would break with the party to join Democrats this time, saying Trump violated his oath to protect and defend U.S. democracy. Among them was Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
As two Republican lawmakers — Washington Reps. Dan Newhouse and Jaime Herrera Beutler — announced on the floor they would vote to impeach, Trump issued a new statement urging "NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind." But he has repeatedly declined to take any responsibility for last week's riots.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said for the first time that Trump does bear responsibility, acknowledging on the House floor before the vote that Biden is the next president and that radical liberal groups were not responsible for the riots, as some conservatives have falsely claimed.
But McCarthy said he opposed impeachment, instead favoring a "fact finding commission" and censure.
As for threats of more trouble from intruders, security was exceptionally tight at the Capitol with shocking images of massed National Guard troops, secure perimeters around the complex and metal-detector screenings required for lawmakers entering the House chamber.
"We are debating this historic measure at a crime scene," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.
Though McConnell is declining to hasten an impeachment trial, a Republican strategist told The Associated Press the GOP leader believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and considers the Democrats' impeachment drive an opportunity to reduce the divisive, chaotic president's hold on the GOP.
McConnell called major Republican donors last weekend to gauge their thinking about Trump and was told that Trump had clearly crossed a line. McConnell told them he was through with Trump, said the strategist, who demanded anonymity to describe McConnell's conversations.
The New York Times first reported McConnell's views on impeachment on Tuesday.
The stunning collapse of Trump's final days in office, along with warnings of more violence ahead, leaves the nation at an uneasy and unfamiliar juncture before Biden takes office.
Trump faces the single charge of "incitement of insurrection."
The four-page impeachment resolution relies on Trump's own incendiary rhetoric and the falsehoods he spread about Biden's election victory, including at a White House rally on the day of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, in making its case for "high crimes and misdemeanors" as demanded in the Constitution.
Trump took no responsibility for the riot, suggesting it was the drive to oust him rather than his actions around the bloody riot that was dividing the country.READ FULL ARTICLE