Donald Trump impeached again

House Chamber, US Capitol Building, Washington, DC. Public domain photo.

History was made on the floor of the US House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon.

By a vote of 232-197, members voted to impeach President Donald Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection.

Trump is accused of encouraging a large crowd of supporters to march on the Capitol Building in Washington last week while Congress was certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election win. The crowd stormed the building, causing widespread damage. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer.

This marks the first time in US history that a president has been impeached twice. Trump was acquitted by the Senate last year of obstruction of justice and contempt of Congress.

Every Democratic member of the House that voted cast a ballot in favour of impeachment. Ten Republicans also voted in favour, including two from Michigan, Representatives Peter Meijer and Fred Upton.

Another Republican to break rank was Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who called for Trump to be removed from office almost immediately after the Capitol uprising.

“I think this is one of those votes that that transcends any kind of political implication if the moment,” Kinzinger told CNN. “This is one of those that you’re going to look back on when you’re 80 and this will be the one you talk about.”

President Trump recorded a statement Wednesday evening, which was posted on the official White House YouTube account.

This is also the fourth time in history that an American president has been charged with what the Constitution characterizes as “high crimes and misdemeanors”, though no one has been removed from the White House this way.

Andrew Johnson faced impeachment in 1868 for violating the Tenure of Office Act, and Bill Clinton went through the process in 1999 for lying to a grand jury about his extramarital affair with a White House intern. Both men were acquitted of the charges.

Richard Nixon resigned from office in 1974 before the full House could vote on impeaching him for his cover-up of the Watergate affair.

The next step is for the House leadership to deliver the article of impeachment to the Senate, where Trump will once again be tried.  However, it is unlikely that any trial will take place before Trump leaves office on January 20.

CNN reported Wednesday that the Senate will not return to session before Tuesday, the day before Biden is sworn in, although Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said a trial could begin right away with agreement from Senate Republicans.

The trial will be presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts of the US Supreme Court, and Senators act as the jury. Two-thirds of Senators must vote to convict, but Trump will likely be already out of office at that point. CNN also reported that following such a vote, Senators only need a simple majority vote to bar Trump from running for President again.