The US House of Representatives has impeached President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection” after a mob of his supporters stormed the United States Capitol last week, marking the first time in US history that a president has been impeached twice.
The House resolution, which passed by a vote of 232-197 on Wednesday afternoon, states that Trump’s actions and remarks ahead of the storming of the Capitol building in Washington, DC incited the rioters.
“Today, in a bipartisan way, the House demonstrated that no one is above the law – not even the President of the United States,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she signed the article of impeachment after the vote.
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The measure, Pelosi said, also makes clear “that Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to our country”.Ten Republicans joined 222 Democrats in voting to impeach Trump, making the vote a bipartisan rebuke of the president’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The riot at the Capitol on January 6 left five people dead and sent shockwaves across the US and the world, spurring Democratic Party legislators to launch an impeachment push against Trump in his final days in the White House.
The Capitol was stormed after Trump delivered an inflammatory speech to a crowd of his supporters that had gathered in protest against Congress’ certification of US President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.
Trump ‘unequivocally’ condemns violence
The impeachment article states that in the months before January 6, Trump repeated false claims of widespread election fraud and said the results should not be accepted.
He also “willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged – and foreseeably resulted in – lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country any more,'” the article states.
But in a video posted on the White House Twitter account on Wednesday evening, he condemned the attack on the Capitol and said there was no excuse for violence.
“I want to be very clear, I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week. Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement,” Trump said.
The president had remained defiant on Tuesday, rejecting Democrats’ impeachment effort as dangerous and “a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country”.
The House named managers to prosecute the charge of insurrection against Trump in a Senate trial, which is not expected to begin until after Biden’s inauguration.
That is when Democrats are poised to take control of the Senate. At least two Senate Republicans have already called on Trump to step down, and a third has said they would consider voting for impeachment.
“Make no mistake, there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement after the House vote.
“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,” Schumer said.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday that the Senate would not take action until after Biden is sworn in, however.
“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.
While some Republicans have sought to distance themselves from Trump over the past few days and asked him to step down, many still defended him on Wednesday by calling the impeachment process unnecessary at a time when the US needs to heal.
“In seven days, there will be a peaceful transfer of power just like there has been every other time in our country, but Democrats are gonna impeach President Trump again. This doesn’t unite the country,” Republican Congressman Jim Jordan said.
Calls for accountability
But Democrats said healing cannot begin without accountability for the attack on the Capitol.
“The constitutional crimes inspired by an out-of-control president, inspired by his hatred and the big lie that he told cannot be ignored,” said Democrat Hakeem Jeffries during the debate on Wednesday.
Speaking to Al Jazeera after the vote, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said “to the American people and to the world it is clear why we had to make sure that [Trump’s] actions had consequences”.
She described his impeachment as an “act of accountability” that would create a pathway towards justice and unity in the US.
“This is a president who has not only been a threat to our democracy, our government – but he’s been a president who has used rhetoric to divide our nation. And once we are able to remove him we can start the process of healing,” Omar said.