Washington, Jan 13 (efe-epa).- The United States House of Representatives made history Wednesday, voting 232-197 to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time in his four-year term.
Ten of the outgoing president’s fellow Republicans united with the Democratic majority in the House to impeach him for “incitement of insurrection” after a mob of his supporters – inflamed by Trump’s evidence-free claims of fraud in the Nov. 3 election – stormed the Capitol a week ago.
The assault, which occurred while a joint session of Congress was being held to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, left five dead.
Trump had urged his supporters to gather in Washington on Jan. 6 and, in a speech at a rally that day, encouraged the crowd to march to the Capitol.
Minutes after Wednesday’s vote in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the upper chamber would not convene until Jan. 19, a day before Biden’s inauguration, which means Trump’s trial will take place after he leaves office.
News reports Tuesday citing unnamed sources as saying that McConnell saw this second attempt to impeach Trump as justified had led some Democrats to hope the Kentucky Republican might agree to bring back the Senate early.
In a message to Republican senators reaffirming the Jan. 19 start to the new session, McConnell wrote 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.”
Passage of the impeachment resolution in the House was a foregone conclusion, but the question of how many Republicans would vote against Trump added an element of suspense.
Four GOP House members – Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Liz Cheney of Wyoming, John Katko of New York and Fred Upton of Michigan – signaled ahead of time that they would vote in favor of the resolution.
Joining them were Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, both of Washington state; Peter Meijer of Michigan, Tom Rice of South Carolina, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio and David Valadao of California.
The 10 Republican “yes” votes made this the most bipartisan impeachment in US history.
And even as he opposed impeachment during the debate that preceded the vote, the leader of the Republican minority in the House, Kevin McCarthy, acknowledged that Trump was a fault.
“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” the California lawmaker said. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”
The president was impeached by the House in late 2019 on one charge of abuse of power stemming from an allegation that he sought personal political gain that year by improperly pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce a corruption investigation into then-candidate Biden and his son Hunter.
He also faced a separate charge of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry.
Trump was acquitted in the Republican-controlled Senate early last year, but cannot be sure that a second trial will produce the same outcome.
The rationale for going forward with a Senate trial after Trump leaves the presidency would be to disqualify him from holding political office in the future.
Conviction following a Senate impeachment trial requires a two-thirds majority.
The 100-member body will be equally divided among Democrats and Republicans once two recent election results in Georgia are certified, but the Democrats will effectively have a 51-50 majority thanks to the participation of soon-to-be-Vice President Kamala Harris in her constitutional role as president of the Senate.
New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, who will become the Senate majority leader on Jan. 20, said that if Trump is convicted, the chamber will then vote on barring him from public office for the rest of his life.