The House today impeached President Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” as the defeated president becomes only the second in American history to face this level of indictment twice.
The House undertook the action just one week after Trump incited a mob of loyalists to storm the Capitol and stop Congress from affirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.
Returning to a heavily fortified Capitol, protected by thousands of National Guard troops, Democrats and Republicans traded impassioned arguments over what charging the president would accomplish and whether an article of impeachment that accuses the president of “incitement of insurrection” was accurate.
Summoning the darkest chapters of American history, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California implored colleagues in both parties to embrace “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.”
“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” she said, adding later, “It gives me no pleasure to say this — it breaks my heart.”
Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, who is leaving the House to serve as a senior aide to Biden, was more succinct: “Simply put, we told you so.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Trump “bears responsibility” for last week’s takeover of the Capitol but argued against impeachment so close to the end of his term.
The article of impeachment accuses Trump of “inciting violence against the government of the United States” ahead of last week’s storming of the Capitol by supporters he addressed during a rally near the White House.
The riot led to five deaths, including that of a Capitol Police officer who was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher.
A potential Senate trial won’t be held until after Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20, a spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tweeted today.
Trump was impeached by the House in December 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over allegations he tried to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce investigations that would boost his campaign against Biden.
But the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted Trump in February, with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) casting the lone GOP vote against him, on just the abuse of power count.
Only two other US presidents have also been impeached — Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 — but neither was convicted.