WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House for a historic second time Wednesday, charged with “incitement of insurrection” over the deadly mob siege of the Capitol in a swift and stunning collapse of his final days in office.
With the Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops inside and out, the House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump. The proceedings moved at lightning speed, with lawmakers voting just one week after violent pro-Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol, egged on by the president’s calls for them to “fight like hell” against the election results.
Ten Republicans fled Trump, joining Democrats who said he needed to be held accountable and warned ominously of a “clear and present danger” if Congress should leave him unchecked before Democrat Joe Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20.
Trump is the only U.S. president to be twice impeached. It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in modern times, more so than against Bill Clinton in 1998.
The Capitol insurrection stunned and angered lawmakers, who were sent scrambling for safety as the mob descended, and it revealed the fragility of the nation’s history of peaceful transfers of power. The riot 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.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invoked Abraham Lincoln and the Bible, imploring lawmakers to uphold their oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign “and domestic.”
She said of Trump: “He must go, he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
Holed up at the White House, watching the proceedings on TV, Trump later released a video statement in which he made no mention at all of the impeachment but appealed to his supporters to refrain from any further violence or disruption of Biden’s inauguration.
“Like all of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity at the Capitol last week,” he said, his first condemnation of the attack. He appealed for unity “to move forward” and said, “Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. … No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement.”
Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 acquit. He is the first president to be impeached twice. None has been convicted by the Senate, but Republicans said Wednesday that could change in the rapidly shifting political environment as officeholders, donors, big business and others peel away from the defeated president.
Biden said in a statement after the vote that it was his hope the Senate leadership “will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.”
The soonest Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would start an impeachment trial is next Tuesday, the day before Trump is already set to leave the White House, McConnell’s office said. The legislation is also intended to prevent Trump from ever running again.
McConnell believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and considers the Democrats’ impeachment drive an opportunity to reduce the divisive, chaotic president’s hold on the GOP, a Republican strategist told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
McConnell told major donors over the weekend that he was through with Trump, said the strategist, who demanded anonymity to describe McConnell’s conversations.
In a note to colleagues Wednesday, McConnell said he had “not made a final decision on how I will vote.”
Unlike his first time, Trump faces this impeachment as a weakened leader, having lost his own reelection as well as the Senate Republican majority.
Even Trump ally Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, shifted his position and said Wednesday the president bears responsibility for the horrifying day at the Capitol.
In making a case for the “high crimes and misdemeanors” demanded in the Constitution, the four-page impeachment resolution approved Wednesday relies on Trump’s own incendiary rhetoric and the falsehoods he spread about Biden’s election victory, including at a rally near the White House on the day of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
A Capitol Police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. The riot delayed the tally of Electoral College votes that was the last step in finalizing Biden’s victory.
Ten Republican lawmakers, including third-ranking House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, voted to impeach Trump, cleaving the Republican leadership, and the party itself.
Cheney, whose father is the former Republican vice president, said of Trump’s actions summoning the mob that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a President” of his office.
Trump was said to be livid with perceived disloyalty from McConnell and Cheney.
With the team around Trump hollowed out and his Twitter account silenced by the social media company, the president was deeply frustrated that he could not hit back, according to White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.
From the White House, Trump leaned on Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to push Republican senators to resist, while chief of staff Mark Meadows called some of his former colleagues on Capitol Hill.
The president’s sturdy popularity with the GOP lawmakers’ constituents still had some sway, and most House Republicans voted not to impeach.
Security was exceptionally tight at the Capitol, with tall fences around the complex. Metal-detector screenings were required for lawmakers entering the House chamber, where a week earlier lawmakers huddled inside as police, guns drawn, barricaded the door from rioters.
“We are debating this historic measure at a crime scene,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.
During the debate, some Republicans repeated the falsehoods spread by Trump about the election and argued that the president has been treated unfairly by Democrats from the day he took office.
Other Republicans argued the impeachment was a rushed sham and complained about a double standard applied to his supporters but not to the liberal left. Some simply appealed for the nation to move on.
Rep. Tom McClintock of California said, “Every movement has a lunatic fringe.”
Yet Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo. and others recounted the harrowing day as rioters pounded on the chamber door trying to break in. Some called it a “coup” attempt.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., contended that Trump was “capable of starting a civil war.”
Conviction and removal of Trump would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate, which will be evenly divided. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to “go away as soon as possible.”
Fending off concerns that an impeachment trial would bog down his first days in office, Biden is encouraging senators to divide their time between taking taking up his priorities of confirming his nominees and approving COVID-19 relief while also conducting the trial.
The impeachment bill draws from Trump’s own false statements about his election defeat to Biden. Judges across the country, including some nominated by Trump, have repeatedly dismissed cases challenging the election results, and former Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, has said there was no sign of widespread fraud.
The House had first tried to persuade Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke their authority under the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Pence declined to do so, but the House passed the resolution anyway.
The impeachment bill also details Trump’s pressure on state officials in Georgia to “find” him more votes.
While some have questioned impeaching the president so close to the end of his term, there is precedent. In 1876, during the Ulysses Grant administration, War Secretary William Belknap was impeached by the House the day he resigned, and the Senate convened a trial months later. He was acquitted.
Associated Press writers Kevin Freking, Andrew Taylor and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.
EXPLAINER: What’s next after House impeachment vote
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has been impeached by the House days before leaving office, becoming the first American president to be impeached twice.
The previous three impeachments — those of Presidents Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Trump — took months before a final vote, including investigations in the House and hearings. This time it only took a week after Trump encouraged a crowd of his supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol.
Democrats and 10 Republicans voted to impeach Trump on one charge: incitement of insurrection.
Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will not begin a trial until next Tuesday, at the very earliest, which is the day before Democrat Joe Biden is sworn in as president. It’s unclear, for now, exactly how that trial will proceed and if any Senate Republicans will vote to convict Trump.
Even though the trial won’t happen until Trump is already out of office, it could still have the effect of preventing him from running for president again.
A look at next steps:
SENDING TO THE SENATE
Once the House votes to impeach, the speaker of the House can send the article or articles over to the Senate immediately — or she can wait a while. Speaker Nancy Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send them, but many Democrats in her caucus have urged her to do so immediately.
Pelosi has already appointed nine impeachment managers to argue the case against Trump in a Senate trial, a sign that she will send them sooner rather than later.
Once the articles are sent over — that is usually done with an official walk from the House to the Senate — then the majority leader of the Senate must start the process of having a trial.
THE SENATE SCHEDULE
The Senate is not scheduled to be in session until Jan. 19, which could be McConnell’s last day as Senate leader. Once Vice President Kamala Harris is sworn in, making her the president of the Senate, and Georgia’s two Democratic senators are also sworn in, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer will take charge and determine how the trial will proceed.
McConnell said he will not bring the Senate back on an emergency basis to start the trial, so the earliest it could begin would be Tuesday. That means the trial is certain to take place after Trump has already left office.
McConnell noted that the three previous Senate trials lasted “83 days, 37 days, and 21 days respectively.”
ALL EYES ON MCCONNELL
McConnell believes that Trump committed impeachable offenses and considers the Democrats’ impeachment drive an opportunity to reduce the divisive, chaotic president’s hold on the GOP, a Republican strategist told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
And McConnell told major donors over the weekend that he was through with Trump, said the strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe McConnell’s conversations. His wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, resigned from Trump’s Cabinet soon after the riots.
But despite sending signals, McConnell has been characteristically quiet in public. In a note to colleagues Wednesday released by his office, McConnell said he had “not made a final decision on how I will vote.”
If McConnell voted to convict, other Republicans would surely follow. But no GOP senators have said how they will vote, and two-thirds of the Senate is needed.
Still, some Republicans have told Trump to resign, including Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and few are defending him.
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska has said he would take a look at what the House approves, but stopped short of committing to support it.
Other Republicans have said that impeachment would be divisive. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, long a key ally of the president, has been critical of his behavior in inciting the riots but said impeachment “will do far more harm than good.”
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump in last year’s impeachment trial, after the House impeached Trump over his dealings with the president of Ukraine.
In the House, 10 Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump, including Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican. Every single House Republican voted against Trump’s first impeachment in 2019.
If the Senate were to convict, lawmakers could then take a separate vote on whether to disqualify Trump from holding future office.
Schumer said Wednesday: “Make no mistake, there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate; there will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors; and if the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again.”
In the case of federal judges who were impeached and removed from office, the Senate has taken a second vote after conviction to determine whether to bar the person from ever holding federal office again.
Only a majority of senators would be needed to ban him from future office, unlike the two-thirds needed to convict.
DIFFERENT CHARGES, DIFFERENT IMPEACHMENT
This impeachment trial is likely to differ from the last one in many ways.
The House charges in 2019 on Trump’s dealings with the president of Ukraine, whom he urged to investigate Biden, came after a lengthy investigation and testimony from multiple government officials. While Democrats unanimously criticized the conduct and charged Trump with abuse of power, the charges wove together a complicated web of evidence.
This time, Democrats felt there was little need for an investigation — the invasion of the Capitol played out on live television, and most members of Congress were in the building as it happened.
Trump’s speech beforehand, in which he told his supporters to “fight like hell” against the election results, was also televised as Congress prepared to officially count the votes.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, who led the last House impeachment team, said the insurrection at the Capitol was an “impeachable offense committed in broad daylight, in which the whole country was a witness.”
He said the lightning-fast impeachment “was required by the exigency of the circumstances, and also made possible by the very nature of the crime.”
The four-page article of impeachment says that Trump “gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government.”
It was introduced by Democratic Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California and Jamie Raskin of Maryland, all of whom have been tapped to serve as impeachment managers in the Senate trial.
The article says Trump’s behavior is consistent with his prior efforts to “subvert and obstruct” the results of the election and references his recent call with the Georgia secretary of state, in which he said he wanted him to find him more votes after losing the state to Biden.
Trump has falsely claimed there was widespread fraud in the election, and the baseless claims have been repeatedly echoed by congressional Republicans and the insurgents who descended on the Capitol.
As the protesters broke in, both chambers were debating GOP challenges to the electoral vote count in Arizona as part of the process for certifying Biden’s election win.
Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro, Alan Fram and Jessica Gresko contributed to this report from Washington.