WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has been impeached for a second time, now becoming the only U.S. President to hold that dubious distinction.
On Wednesday members of the House sped to a vote on impeachment just a week after president Trump encouraged supporters to “fight like hell” against the November election results, and then a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. The impeachment also comes just one week before his term is set to end and President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
Late Wednesday afternoon the House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump, with 10 Republicans joining the vast majority of Democrats in the effort. During debate on the articles of impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) asked Republicans and Democrats to “search their souls” ahead of the historic afternoon vote.
“We know that we faced enemies to the Constitution. We know that we experienced the insurrections that violated the sanctity of the People’s capitol and attempted to overturn the duly recorded will of the American People. And we know that the President of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion, against our common country. He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” Pelosi said.
Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) also spoke and admonished those who participated in the raid, saying violence is never a legitimate form of protest. And while he didn’t support the impeachment effort, he did acknowledge that it was the supporters of the president – and not anyone else – who was to blame for the raid.
“Some say the riots were caused by Antifa. There is absolutely no evidence of that and Conservatives should be the first to say so,” McCarthy said.
While many members of the House did speak during the lengthy debate on Wednesday, local Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning) did not. But he did hold a press call with regional media on Wednesday to discuss the matter.
“There have been numerous other issues that I’ve been attending to as we speak and my comments on impeachment have been widely reported and widely known, so I don’t anticipate I will be given floor comments on this issue,” he told Reporters on Wednesday, less than two hours before the impeachment vote took place.
The New York Times published an op/ed by Reed on Tuesday, where he called for the censure of the president, rather than impeachment. He said he was against impeachment because he knew it would be a rushed process with just seven days remaining in the president’s term.
“I think snap impeachment is not the way to go and not substantively the right thing to do in regards to not having an investigation, not respecting due process rights, and not respecting and debating the issues of Constitutional free speech that is involved here. And also the division and anger that is being exacerbated by this snap impeachment can not be underestimated,” Reed said.
The impeachment proceedings came one week after a violent, pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol, sending lawmakers into hiding and hindering the nation’s long history of peaceful transfers of power. The riot has also forced a reckoning among some Republicans, who have stood by Trump throughout his presidency and largely allowed him to spread false attacks against the integrity of the 2020 election.
The impeachment in the House now leads to a trial in the Senate, where a two-thirds majority is required to remove the president from office.
Trump has been at this point before. The House impeached him in late 2019 for his pressure campaign on Ukraine and the Senate ultimately voted to acquit after quickly rushing through the trial process without calling any witnesses. This time, the trial process is expected to be far more extensive with Democrats controlling the Senate.
Even if found guilty, the actual removal of Trump is highly unlikely before the Jan. 20 inauguration of Biden. But some say that the Senate trial – whenever it takes place – is still necessary in order to lay out all the evidence against the President and his alleged involvement in the insurrection and putting it on the public, and historic, record. A guilty verdict could also lead to Trump never being able to hold office again.