US President Donald Trump on Wednesday became the first president in history to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives. The House voted 232 - 197 in favour of the impeachment, with 10 Republicans breaking ranks with their party and voting the motion.
According to one report, Trump's second impeachment is the most bipartisan in history, with such magnitude of support from within a president's party last seen during the late 1990s when five members of Democratic Party supported Bill Clinton's impeachment.
This House impeached Trump on one article of impeachment this time: incitement of insurrection. In December 2019, when Trump was last impeached, it was done so on two articles - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
These developments come exactly one week after supporters of Trump stormed the US Capitol on January 6- the seat of the United States Congress - while US Vice-President Mike Pence was presiding over a constitutionally-required joint session of Congress. This session was convened to certify the electoral college formally electing President-elect Joe Biden, who won the November 3, 2020 election with 306 electoral college votes, and Trump bagging the remaining 232.
Trump, who called the election as rigged, convened a rally drawing thousands to the capital to protest the certification and pressure Pence to overturn the result, and reportedly egged his supporters on towards the besiegement. "We won this election, and we won it by a landslide'' and ''if you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore'' are the quoted instances of Trump on January 6 by the resolution adopted by the House - H. Res. 24 - that impeached Trump.
The impeachment was carried out by the House after it gave Pence a 24-hour window to invoke the 25th Amendment to supersede Trump as president, and making him acting-president till January 20, when Biden assumes the presidency.
Trump, in turn, released a sobered five-minute video on the White House's social media channels, but makes no mention of the impeachment.
In the video, he condemns the violence that took place on the Capital, called for peace, and said that the National Guard was being brought into the capital to ensure that a transition next week pans out smoothly. He also mentioned the assault on free speech witnessed over the last few days, a reference to social media companies clamping down on his accounts since January 6.
On Friday, Twitter permanently stripped Trump of his account, which was his favoured mode of communication directly with the public, after what the company says was a violation of their violence policy. Several other social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube have joined ranks and have severely restricted his ability to use them atleast until he demits office.
Reaction from the Senate
After being impeached by the House, action will now take place in the Senate, where Trump will face trial. A set of nine Democratic "managers" - all lawyers and experts in constitutional law - will lead the prosecution in the Senate.
However, based on the reaction coming in from the Senate, it is highly unlikely that Trump will be convicted before his term ends or that the Senate will be even convened till January 19, just one day before his term ends.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said that there is no chance a trial could conclude for Trump before January 20. Precedent shows that the past three impeachment trials in the Senate have lasted 83 days, 37 days and 21 days respectively. Instead, he called on the government machinery to ensure a successful transition to a Biden presidency.
Democratic Leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said that McConnell could call Senate for an emergency session and the trial can begin "immediately", or that a regular session could start January 19. Regardless, there will be vote on whether to convict Trump, and importantly, if convicted, a vote on barring him from running again.
Come Wednesday, along with an incoming Biden-led government, Schumer will become Majority Leader in the Senate, which was flipped by the Democrats after they won both seats in Georgia, and is likely to play a major role in Trump's trial.
The incoming 100-member Senate breakup will see 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, with incoming Democratic Vice-President Kamala Harris getting the casting vote.
For Trump to be convicted, another 17 Republicans would need to join the 50 Democrats to vote in favour of it. It remains unclear if such a move remains a possibility. For a conviction in the Senate to go through, 67 votes, or a two-thirds majority is required to support it.