UPDATED, 1:36 PM PT: Donald Trump became the first president to be impeached twice, as the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed an article citing him for inciting the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol last week.
The 232-197 vote came after just two hours of debate, reflecting the urgency of House Democrats to impeach the president before his term ends. Ten Republicans joined with Democrats to impeach the president.
After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the vote as final, members paused for a moment, then went about chatting among themselves.
All of the news networks covered the vote, and broadcast networks broke in with special reports.
Trump was charged with one article for impeachment, inciting an insurrection stemming from the riot at the Capitol.
It will be up to the Senate to hold a trial. If two-thirds vote to convict, Trump will be removed from office.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement that it would be impossible for the Senate to hold a trial and decide whether Trump should be removed before Biden’s inauguration next week. He said in a statement that “there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude” before January 20. McConnell has resisted calls to return the Senate to an emergency session before January 19.
“I believe it will best serve our nation if Congress and the executive branch spend the next seven days completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden administration,” McConnell said.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), soon to succeed McConnell as majority leader, said that “there will be an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate,” along with a vote that would prohibit Trump from running again.
Trump was awarding the National Medal of Arts to Ricky Skaggs and Toby Keith as the vote was taking place, according to NBC News.
The impeachment proceedings were far different than those in December 2019. This time, hundreds of National Guard troops were fanned out across the Capitol following the siege that left five people dead and dozens injured. During the debate, members of Congress described fleeing and fearful for their lives as rioters stormed through the hallways and tried to break down doors leading to the chamber.
“There are more troops right now in Washington, D.C., than in Afghanistan, and they are here to defend us against the commander in chief, the president of the United States and his mob.”
The vote took place a week to the day since the Capitol siege. Trump’s previous impeachment came after months of investigation and hearings.
The House has impeached a president three other times: Trump in 2019, Bill Clinton in 1998 and Andrew Jackson in 1868.
One surprise vote for impeachment among Republicans was Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC). He was among the 139 GOP House members to oppose, even after the siege, the certification of the electoral vote for Biden.
UPDATE, 12:53 PM PT: The House is now voting on whether to impeach Donald Trump, something that would make him the first president to be impeached twice.
So far, seven Republicans have said they would vote yes.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was the final speaker after two hours of debate, and he implored Republicans to follow Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and vote for impeachment.
“In my view Donald Trump demands absolute loyalty, and gives none in return,” he said.
UPDATE, 12:23 PM PT: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he has not yet decided how he will vote on impeachment if it makes it to the Senate.
Per CNN and other news outlets, McConnell sent a letter to colleagues in which he said that “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.”
There were reports that McConnell believes Trump committed impeachable offenses. McConnell also has said that the Senate will not return until January 19, meaning that a trial would likely start after Trump leaves office.
UPDATE, 11:41 AM PT: Kathy Griffin responded to Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), who used his time during the impeachment debate to pin blame on “Hollywood socialists” for an environment of incendiary rhetoric. Buck cited anti-Trump comments made by Madonna and Robert De Niro, and the incident when Griffin posted an image of her holding a mock severed head of the president.
“My only take away… ‘Kathy Griffin AND MADONNA,'” Griffin wrote.
My only take away…
“Kathy Griffin AND MADONNA”
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) January 13, 2021
UPDATE, 11 AM PT: The White House released a statement from Donald Trump in which he urged no violence in light of reports of plans for more protests and unrest from far-right groups.
“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind. That 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 tempers. Thank You,” Trump said in the statement.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) read the statement on the floor of the House as members debate impeaching Trump.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) wore a mask that read “censored” as she spoke on the floor against impeachment, a moment captured by major networks.
UPDATE, 10:45 AM PT: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said that he opposes impeachment, but that Donald Trump bears responsibility for the siege on the Capitol last week.
“He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,” said McCarthy, who spoke by phone with Trump as the siege was unfolding and urged him to put out a strong statement condemning what was happening.
But even after the terrifying events of the day, McCarthy joined with 138 other House Republicans in rejecting the certification of Joe Biden as the winner of the electoral vote.
On Wednesday, though, McCarthy said that “what we saw last week was not the American way. Neither is the continued rhetoric that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president.” He also said that the riots were not caused by antifa, a claim being made by some on the far right. “There is absolutely no evidence of that, and conservatives should be the first to say so,” he said.
Like other Republicans, McCarthy said that impeachment would further divide the country. He suggested that he favored a censure resolution against Trump, but that proposal was rejected.
Among the half dozen Republicans so far who have said they favor impeachment is Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA). “I’m not afraid of losing my job, but I am afraid my country will fail,” she said. Democrats clapped when she announced her yes vote.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) said that he thought the president committed impeachable offenses, in that he pressured Vice President Mike Pence to try to overturn the results of the election. But Roy said that he disagreed with the way that the article of impeachment was written because it goes after what some may interpret as political speech.
“Let’s do it the right way, with deliberation and without disastrous side effects,” he said.
UPDATE, 9:38 AM PT: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged members to vote to impeach Donald Trump for a second time, calling him a “clear and present danger.”
“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation we all love,” Pelosi said, her voice a bit muffled from her face mask, as members began two hours of debate.
In the article of impeachment, Trump is charged with inciting the insurrection at the Capitol last week. A mob of his supporters stormed the complex as Congress was preparing to certify the electoral vote for Joe Biden. Just before, Trump had railed against the results of the election in a speech at the Ellipse, telling his supporters, “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He urged them to march to the Capitol and said the he would be there with them, although he did not make the trek.
The Capitol was like a fortress in advance of the vote Wednesday, as hundreds of members of the National Guard were fanned out across the complex. Soldiers bivouacked on the floor of the Capitol Visitor Center, a military presence that may have been unmatched since the Civil War.
The show of security was visible elsewhere, with a perimeter fence around the Capitol. Members for the first time were required to go through metal detectors before taking to the floor, although some Republicans ignored Capitol Police officers and just walked in the chamber even after setting off alarms.
There were still signs of the damage from last week, with windows boarded up, but other areas were repaired. There were new glass doors on the Speakers Lobby. That was the site of a standoff between police officers and the rioters, in which one woman demonstrator, Ashli Babbitt, was shot and killed.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters that up to 20 Republicans could vote to impeach, a contrast to Trump’s first impeachment in December 2019, when no GOP members voted for it. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), a member of House Republican leadership, said that she would vote to impeach. Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) told MSNBC that Republican colleagues have told him that they are “afraid for their lives” if they vote to impeach. CBS News reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell favors impeaching Trump, but he also will not agree to reconvene the Senate for a trial before January 19.
Most Republicans characterized Democrats as divisive in pursuing impeachment with just days left in Trump’s term.
“It is always about getting the president no matter what,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who spent his time railing against “cancel culture,” at one point saying, “The Ayatollah can tweet but the president cannot.”
Others did try to defend Trump, and noted that he actually told his supporters to engage in peaceful protests, albeit it was one mention amid fiery rhetoric that the presidential election was stolen from him.
“If we impeached every politician who gave a fiery speech to a crowd of partisans, this Capitol would be deserted,” said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA). He also claimed that “if we had prosecuted BLM and antifa rioters across the country with the same determination these last six months, this incident may not have happened at all.”
Others tried to establish an equivalency between the siege on the Capitol and the unrest and rhetoric from the left. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), railing against “socialists in Hollywood,” said that it was Democrats who didn’t condemn remarks that Robert De Niro, Madonna and Kathy Griffin made about Trump, while Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said that “before rioters tore through that glass, Speaker Pelosi stood at that rostrum and tore through the president’s State of the Union speech, inciting anger, resentment, division.”
PREVIOUSLY: A heavy presence of National Guard members was fanned out across the Capitol grounds as the House prepares to impeach Donald Trump for the second time, as he is charged with inciting the insurrection a week ago.
The House began debate on a rule to proceed on Wednesday morning. There will be two hours of debate on the impeachment articles, with a vote expected in the mid- to late-afternoon.
“This was a well organized attack on our country that was incited by Donald Trump,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), the chairman of the House Rules Committee, who recounted seeing the rioters attempt to break through the doors just outside the House chamber. “Domestic terrorists broke into the Capitol that day, and it is a miracle more didn’t die. As my colleagues and I were being evacuated to safety, I never ever will forget what I saw in the eyes of the attackers right in the Speakers Lobby there. I saw evil.”
“America was attacked and we must respond,” he said.
It will take 218 votes to impeach Trump. Democrats reportedly have 215 votes in favor, and so far five Republicans have said that they will also support impeachment.
A number of Republicans didn’t defend Trump’s conduct, but said that another impeachment would be divisive.
“Instead of moving forward as a unifying force, the majority in the House is choosing to divide us further, with only a week to go in his term,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), who said that last Wednesday’s siege of the Capitol was the “darkest day” he had experienced in Congress. After Congress reconvened that evening, Cole was among the 147 Republican lawmakers in the House and the Senate to vote against certifying the electoral votes for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer read through Trump’s comments at a rally that preceded the Capitol siege, and then recounted that rioters were “infected with white supremacists, carrying a rebel flag, erecting a gallows structure with a noose. Wearing shirts and hateful messages, such as ‘Camp Auschwitz.’ ‘Work brings freedom.’ And ‘MAGA civil war January 6th 2021’.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) railed against the process, claiming that impeachment was about “canceling all the guys that you disagree with.” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) responded by saying, “The cancel culture of violent white supremacy tried to cancel out all of our lives last Wednesday.”
News networks are providing coverage throughout the day, with CNN taking down a paywall for a free livestream. Broadcast networks also are planning special reports.
If the House passes the article of impeachment, Trump will be the first president to be impeached twice. With just a week left in his term, the question is whether the Senate can hold a trial by the time that Trump’s term ends at noon on January 20.
On Tuesday evening, the House adopted a resolution, 223-205, calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump. In a letter to Nancy Pelosi, Pence said that he would not do so.
A year ago, the Senate was about to start a trial of Trump on the House’s first impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. That impeachment was over a July 25, 2019 phone call in which Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to launch an investigation of Biden.