Ten Republicans join all Democrats in charging president with inciting riot at U.S. Capitol
SOURCE: WALL STREET JOURNAL
WASHINGTON—The House voted to impeach President Trump for an unprecedented second time on Wednesday, alleging he encouraged a mob to storm Congress as part of a last-gasp effort to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s election win.
The vote was 232 to 197, with all Democrats joined by 10 Republicans, in a House chamber guarded by National Guard troops stationed throughout the Capitol and its grounds.
Democrats’ push to impeach Mr. Trump just before he is set to leave office reflects many lawmakers’ deep anger at Mr. Trump’s monthslong campaign to challenge the results of the election, making false claims about election fraud and trying to twist the arms of state officials as well as Vice President Mike Pence to stay in power, culminating in his supporters’ violent actions.
“We know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion, against our country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said. “He must go—he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
Republicans, some of whom criticized Mr. Trump’s actions, said Democrats were rushing to impeach because of their longstanding animosity toward the president and would just further divide the country.
H ouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said Mr. Trump “bears responsibility” for the Capitol riot but said he opposed impeachment, calling for censure instead. “A vote to impeach would further divide this nation, a vote to impeach will further fan the flames, the partisan division,” he said.
Mr. Trump on Wednesday urged his supporters not to engage in violence. He has accepted no responsibility for the Capitol riot and has denied wrongdoing, calling the efforts to remove him from office over his comments a continuation of what he has termed a Democrat witch hunt.
In a statement released by the White House, Mr. Trump called for Americans to “help ease tensions and calm tempers,” and said violence and vandalism was “not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for.”
House Democrats’ article of impeachment alleges that Mr. Trump “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 anymore.’”
Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.), the No. 3 House Republican, was the only member of her party’s leadership to back impeachment. The other Republicans who voted to impeach were geographically and ideologically diverse: Reps. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Peter Meijer of Michigan, Dan Newhouse of Washington, Tom Rice of South Carolina, Fred Upton of Michigan and David Valadao of California.
The final congressional word on Mr. Trump’s legacy will rest in the hands of the Senate, set to be split 50-50 later this month, where a two-thirds supermajority is required to convict Mr. Trump. Some GOP senators have signaled they could join Democrats, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he hadn’t decided how to vote on the matter.
It’s not known when a trial would start, though Mr. McConnell said any vote would take place after Mr. Biden becomes president on Jan. 20. If the Senate convicts Mr. Trump, it could also vote, at a lower threshold, to ban the president from ever seeking office again, as he has publicly contemplated.
Wednesday’s vote was held seven days after rioters invaded the Capitol building, halting the joint session of Congress held to certify Mr. Biden’s win and sending lawmakers and aides fleeing from the chambers with just moments to spare. The vote comes 13 months after Mr. Trump’s first impeachment in late 2019, over his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden. No Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the two articles of impeachment, and only one GOP senator voted to convict, on one count. Mr. Trump denied wrongdoing.
The action marks the fastest impeachment vote assembled in the nation’s history and makes Mr. Trump the first American president to be impeached in two separate proceedings. House Democrats introduced the article of impeachment Monday and passed it Wednesday after unsuccessfully urging Mr. Pence and members of the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to push Mr. Trump out of office.
Unlike past impeachments, there were no depositions or investigations by Congressional committees. Instead, many lawmakers cited firsthand accounts of the attack, as well as public statements by the president, in arguing for impeachment, saying Congress must send a message.
“President Trump used a litany of lies about a stolen election, and willfully incited an armed insurrection with the intent of stopping the peaceful transfer of power,” said New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee.
Rep. Chip Roy (R., Texas) called the president’s actions impeachable, but said the article of impeachment was flawed and he would vote no.
“Let us condemn that which must be condemned and do so loudly,” he said on the House floor. “But let us do it the right way—with deliberation, and without disastrous side effects.”
But Ms. Cheney said the president’s actions demanded a stiff response. Mr. Trump “summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” she said.
Reflecting the splits in the caucus, Ms. Cheney faced backlash from some GOP colleagues, who circulated a petition for a special meeting to determine whether she should step down from her leadership post. Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), an influential conservative, said he was looking to see whether lawmakers could trigger a second vote on her leadership position. “I think she’s totally wrong,” he said.
Mr. Jordan said Democrats were trying to relitigate the 2016 election by doing a last-minute impeachment. “This is more than about impeaching the president of the United States. This is about canceling the president and canceling all the people you guys disagree with,” Mr. Jordan said to Democrats on the House floor Tuesday night.
In the 2019 impeachment, officials from the White House counsel’s and legislative affairs offices worked to rally votes against impeachment and formed a “war room” on the Hill with several lawmakers. But White House officials were notably absent ahead of Wednesday’s vote. White House counsel Pat Cipollone considered resigning in the wake of the riot, according to people familiar with the matter, and he and other top Trump advisers aren’t expected to serve on the president’s defense team for impeachment, one of the people said.
Since the riot last Wednesday, federal officials have said they were examining more than 160 cases and weighing sedition charges in some of them and are treating the breach like an international counterterrorism or counterintelligence operation. A police officer and a rioter were killed in the rampage and three others died of medical emergencies.
Dozens of big U.S. companies, including AT&T Inc. and Walmart Inc., have suspended political donations to Republicans who objected to last week’s certification of the results of the presidential election. The conservative Koch network’s Americans for Prosperity, and the affiliated super PAC, will evaluate future support of politicians based on their actions last week, its chief executive said. The riot interrupted the certification for several hours.
Following Wednesday’s vote, the case moves to the Senate. While Mr. McConnell made clear he doesn’t plan to start a trial immediately, it isn’t clear when it would start. The Constitution dictates that it begin the day after the House sends an impeachment article to the Senate. Ahead of the vote, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) said Democrats expect to move the case quickly and not hold on to it.
“My expectation is we will send it as quickly as it’s ready to go,” he said.
The Democrats are set to take control of the Senate later this month after two new Georgia senators are seated and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris becomes the tiebreaking vote.
Mrs. Pelosi named nine impeachment managers on Tuesday night who would be in charge of taking the case to the Senate for an impeachment trial. The lead impeachment manager is Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, who co-wrote the article the House passed on Wednesday.