The House of Representatives Wednesday made history by voting to impeach President Trump for a second time for “incitement of insurrection” after a mob of his supporters besieged the Capitol on Jan. 6 in a failed attempt to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden‘s electoral college win.
The House voted 232-197 to impeach the president. Ten Republicans joined with Democrats.
Trump has just one week left in office, but the supporters of the impeachment push say Trump is too dangerous to stay in office a minute longer. The impeachment resolution condemns Trump for spreading lies that he won the election in a landslide and whipping up a crowd of supporters in Washington D.C. before the riot that killed five people, including a Capitol Police officer.
“The bottom line is this: This Capitol was stormed. People died because of the big lies that were being told by this president, and by too many people on the other side of the aisle. Enough,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., in a floor speech before the vote. “People should be outraged as to what happened. It was unforgivable, unconscionable.
“The president of the United States instigated an attempted coup in this country,” McGovern continued. “People died. … If this is not an impeachable offense. I don’t know what the hell is. This president is not fit to remain in office.”
Unlike the last House impeachment of Trump in December 2019 for soliciting foreign interference in the presidential election, Democrats had GOP support. Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, backed impeachment because she said the violent attack at the Capitol could not have happened without Trump.
“The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” said Cheney, who is from Wyoming. “Everything that followed was his doing.”
Joining Cheney in support of impeachment were GOP Reps. Dan Newhouse of Washington, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, John Katko of New York, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Tom Rice of South Carolina, David Valadao of California and Peter Meijer of Michigan.
“President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to undermine our constitutional process, and he bears responsibility for inciting the insurrection we suffered last week,” Meijer tweeted in advance of the vote. “With a heavy heart, I will vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump.”
Most Republicans, however, voted against the rushed impeachment because Trump is already exiting office and the political action would do little to unite a fractured country. Some die-hard Trump supporters in the House also believe Trump is not responsible for the violent actions of his supporters since the president specifically didn’t call for violence.
“If we impeached every politician who gave a fiery speech to a crowd of partisans, this Capitol would be deserted,” Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif. said. “That’s what the president did. That is all he did.”
Republicans point to Trump’s speech at the Stop the Steal rally where he said: “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
McClintock accused Democrats of making provocative speeches this summer in support of Black Lives Matter protests that precipitated violence and looting in the name of racial injustice. He said Democrats should be prepared for consequences the next time when the “lunatic fringe” of their party acts out.
“I cannot think of a more petty, vindictive and gratuitous act than to impeach an already defeated president a week before he is to leave office,” McClintock said.
The impeachment debate happened without any Judiciary Committee hearings. Democrats rushed the resolution to the floor just one week after the mob attacked the Capitol, destroyed property and stopped the work of both chambers of Congress in certifying Biden’s win.
Shell-shocked members recalled the harrowing attack on the Capitol where a woman was shot outside the House chamber, rioters beat police officers with fire extinguishers and the mob went hunting for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence.
The aftermath of the attack was prevalent as military troops were stationed throughout the Capitol Wednesday to protect the complex as the impeachment debate continued and a peaceful transfer of power hung in the balance.
The House already called on Pence to remove Trump from office through the 25th Amendment. Pence, who presided over the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress, was targeted by raged Trump supporters calling for his hanging after Trump erroneously suggested the vice president had the power to stop Biden from becoming president.
Pence, however, declined to invoke the 25th Amendment and Republican members, like Rep. Tom Cole, said they trust their former colleague’s judgment that Trump is fit to serve the remainder of his term.
Cole said while Trump bears some responsibility for the attack, impeachment is not the answer.
“Jan. 6, 2021, will live in my memory as the darkest day during my time of service as a member of this House,” said Cole, who has been in office for 18 years. “But instead of moving forward as a unifying force, the majority in the House is choosing to divide us further.”
The one article of impeachment is for “incitement of insurrection” and states that Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States.”
Trump encouraged his supporters to gather in Washington on Jan. 6 for a “wild” gathering. The four-page impeachment resolution quotes excerpts from Trump’s speech where he repeated the false claim “we won this election, and we won it by a landslide.”
Trump refused to concede the election and encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol where he wanted Congress to vote against the certification of Biden’s victory. “If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said.
The resolution also calls out Trump for his Jan. 2 phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where he urged the election official to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win in the state — and appeared to issue subtle threats if Raffensperger failed to do so.
Trump’s actions warrant removal from office and “disqualification” to run ever again, the impeachment resolution states.
Some Republicans had sought to avoid impeachment all together and build bipartisan support for censure — a step below impeachment.
Even House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Wednesday he’d support censure over impeachment.
“The President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” McCarthy said. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”
But House Democrats were too intent on impeachment and anger over the attack fueled the swift action on Wednesday.
“He must go,” Pelosi said. “He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
Now, Pelosi will send the article of impeachment over to the Senate. Once they arrive, the Senate will convene a trial that will take place after Trump leaves office. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., had been pressuring Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to reconvene the Senate immediately under 2004 emergency powers.
But McConnell’s team informed Schumer’s office Wednesday they would not consent.
McConnell confirmed the delay in a statement after the impeachment vote and said the trial won’t take place until after Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
“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.
It’s unclear whether Trump would be found guilty in the Senate. It would require the vote of two-thirds of the body. The most damning consequence for Trump would be being barred from running for president again in 2024, which could lessen his grip on the Republican Party and free up the GOP field for new leaders.
McConnell supported Democrats’ move to initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump and is “done” and “furious” with him, sources familiar told Fox News.
But McConnell wrote to his GOP colleagues Wednesday that he is undecided on whether to convict Trump. “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.”
The Senate acquitted Trump in February 2020 on both articles of impeachment last time, with Sen. Mitt Romney being the only Republican to break with his party.
Pelosi already appointed nine impeachment managers to present the case before the Senate including, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., who recently faced calls to exit the House Intelligence Committee and harsh criticism for remaining mum on past links to a suspected Chinese Communist Party spy.
Pelosi gathered with the impeachment managers after the vote to sign the official article of impeachment and pose for a photo at the engrossment ceremony.
The action Wednesday marks only the 21st time the House has ever impeached a government official.
Trump stands alone in history as becoming the only president to be impeached by the House twice.
A double impeachment of a government official happened once before in 1798 when Tennessee Sen. William Blount was impeached twice.
Though Trump will no longer be president, the trial can still continue in the Senate. It’s happened before for someone who has left office.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Caroline McKee, Adam Shaw and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.