Washington: The US House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump by 232 to 197 votes for his role in inciting last week’s deadly Capitol Hill riot, making him the first president in American history to be impeached twice.
Ten Republican Congressmen also joined the Democrats to vote in favour of an article of impeachment on Wednesday that charged Trump with a count of “incitement of insurrection” for his actions on January 6, when he delivered a speech inciting his supporters to storm the US Capitol.
The violence temporarily halted the counting of Electoral College votes and resulted in the deaths of five individuals, including a police officer.
Four Congressmen did not vote. All four Indian-American House members Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Pramila Jayapal voted in favour of the impeachment.
The House went ahead with the impeachment after vice president Mike Pence on Tuesday refused to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
The Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives passed a resolution on Tuesday night by 223 to 205 votes, calling upon Pence to mobilise the cabinet to activate the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.
The 25th Amendment, adopted more than 50 years ago in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, provides a mechanism for the succession of the president for his or her replacement in the event they prove unfit to serve. Under the amendment, the vice president and a majority of either the cabinet or some other body designated by Congress may remove the president from office.
The impeachment now moves to the Senate, which will conduct a trial and a voting to remove the president from office. The Senate is adjourned till January 19, a day before the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the US. It would take unanimous consent for the Senate to return before then.
“We know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion, against our common country. He must go,” House speaker Nancy Pelosi said, participating in the impeachment debate.
“He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love. Since the presidential election in November, an election the president lost, he has repeatedly lied about the outcome, sowed self-serving doubt about democracy and unconstitutionally sought to influence state officials to repeal reality. And then, came that day of fire we all experienced,” she said.
Pelosi asserted that the president must be impeached. “I believe the president must be convicted by the Senate, a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the republic will be safe from this man who is so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear and that hold us together,” she added.
However, as the impeachment was in process in the House, Trump urged for calm as security agencies reported they have received inputs of possible armed violence by his supporters here and across the country ahead of the January 20 inauguration of his successor Joe Biden.
“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind,” Trump said in a statement issued by the White House on Wednesday.
House majority leader Steny Hoyer said the actions of the president of the United States demanded urgent and clear action by the Congress.
“He ought to be removed. And we have that opportunity to do so. Is there little time left? Yes. But it is never too late to do the right thing,” Hoyer said.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has not yet announced the dates for the trial. In a statement, he said a trial is unlikely before Biden becomes the president of the country.
Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow said he would vote to remove the president. The Democrats need 17 Republican votes to impeach Trump in the Senate.
“Last week, our nation experienced a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol inspired and encouraged by the current president of the United States. Our country cannot heal and move forward without accountability and justice. When the article of impeachment comes before the Senate, I intend to support removing Donald Trump from office,” Stabenow said.
The House of Representatives on December 18, 2019, had approved the articles of impeachment against Trump, charging him of pressuring Ukraine to smear Joe Biden, using nearly $400 million in military aid as leverage.
However, the Republican-controlled Senate in February 2020 acquitted him of both charges – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.