President Donald Trump arrives on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington, after returning from Texas on January 12. (AP)
President Donald Trump arrives on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington, after returning from Texas on January 12. (AP)

Trump impeached again, this time with bipartisan support

The House will now transmit the article of impeachment to the Senate for a trial, to either convict the president or acquit him. But there are no timelines on when that will happen.
By Yashwant Raj
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 07:20 AM IST

Donald Trump on Wednesday became the first American president to be impeached twice, with several Republicans joining the Democrats this time.

The US House of Representatives voted 232-197 to pass the resolution impeaching him, with 10 Republicans joining Democratic lawmakers to deliver the president a historic rebuke for inciting a mob of supporters to storm the US Capitol on January 6 to prevent a joint session of Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Bien’s election victory.

“Today in a bipartisan way, the House demonstrated that no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States, that Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to our country,” House Speaker Pelosi said before signing the article of impeachment to make the second impeachment official.

The House will now transmit the article of impeachment to the Senate for a trial, to either convict the president or acquit him. But there are no timelines on when that will happen.

Republicans, who control the chamber, have no plans of recalling it from recess till January 19. Democrats take charge of the Senate then, and Trump’s trial is likely to take place after he had left office, and Biden will be in White House. A conviction will disbar Trump from holding federal office, imperilling his plans to run again in 2024.

Trump joined a tiny group of impeached US presidents on December 18, 2019, when the action was taken on him for misusing the powers of his office to force a foreign nation — Ukraine — to investigate a political rival, Biden. The two impeachments before were of Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Richard Nixon had escaped becoming the third in 1973 by resigning before the House voted. In just 19 months since the first, Trump had earned himself an unprecedented second impeachment.


Trump has been largely out of sight and disengaged since January 6, except for a trip to Texas and has not reacted to the impeachment till late evening. But he released a video message denouncing the attack on the Capitol. “I want to be clear; I unequivocally condemn the violence we saw last week. Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement,” he said, and went on to appeal for peace, in the wake of heightened security warnings about armed protests between now and Biden’s inauguration.

Trump did not utter a word about the impeachment or the Senate trial up next.

Though Trump still has seven more days left of his term, he appears to have largely checked out of governance. All eyes are now, thus, on pardons that he is expected to grant. Questions are being asked if he will pardon himself, his adult children, Personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani or anyone else.

President-elect Biden, who has sought to stay above Trump’s efforts to overturn the election that led to his impeachment, said, “Today, the members of the House of Representatives exercised the power granted to them under our Constitution and voted to impeach and hold the president accountable. It was a bipartisan vote cast by members who followed the Constitution and their conscience.”

The bipartisan vote, with 10 Republicans breaking with the president, is also a reflection of the turmoil in the Republican party. In the December 2019 impeachment, Republicans had voted as a block in Trump’s support. Now, the party is torn between those who cling to Trump, mostly to not anger him or his base, and others who see an opportunity here to move the party away from the president’s divisive brand of politics that has cost them control of Congress, with Democrats set to take the Senate, and the White House.

Trump’s allies, mostly hardliners, called for the resignation of Liz Cheney, the No 3 House Republican who led the group that voted for the impeachment motion.

But Cheney, who is the daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney, is not capitulating. “I’m not going anywhere. This is a vote of conscience,” she told POLITICO about the impeachment vote, which was not whip-enforced. “It’s one where there are different views in our conference. But our nation is facing an unprecedented, since the civil war, constitutional crisis.”

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