House Impeaches President Trump for Inciting Capitol Hill Attack

Gene Maddaus and Brent Lang

The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday for inciting an insurrection, finding that he poses a threat to democracy and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office.

The vote comes a week after pro-Trump rioters attacked the Capitol building in a failed effort to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. Ten Republicans joined with the Democrats in supporting the impeachment vote, including Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking member of Republican leadership.

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“He must go,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor. “He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

Trump becomes the first president to be impeached twice. If convicted by the Senate, he would be barred from ever holding office again. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that the trial likely would not begin until after Biden is sworn in next week. McConnell has also said that it does not know how he will vote in the trial.

The vote followed two hours of debate in which Democrats argued that Trump had betrayed his oath, while Republicans argued that impeachment would only further divide the country.

Speaking for the Republicans, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said that Democrats were acting on their “obsession” with the president.

“They want to cancel the president,” he said. “It’s always been about getting the president no matter what.”

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., noted that Trump had told the crowd on Jan. 6 to protest “peacefully.” While he said he disagreed with Trump’s speech, he believed the president was engaging in politics, not fomenting an insurrection.

“If we impeached every politician who gave a fiery speech to a crowd of partisans, this Capitol would be deserted,” McClintock said. “That’s what the president did. That is all he did.”

Rep. David Cicciline, D-R.I., one of the House impeachment managers, countered that Trump had summoned the insurrectionists to Washington and directed them to march on the Capitol.

“They answered his call for insurrection,” Cicciline said. “They stormed the citadel of our democracy… They sought above all else to seize control of our government in the name of Donald Trump.”

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., took the opportunity to attack “socialists in Hollywood,” saying that House Democrats had not spoken up against incendiary anti-Trump rhetoric from Robert De Niro, Madonna, and Kathy Griffin.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who voted last week to overturn the election result, took a more statesmanlike approach in his remarks on Wednesday. He acknowledged that Biden won the election, and said that Trump bore some responsibility for the attack.

The impeachment article recounts Trump’s efforts to pressure Georgia’s secretary of state of “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win in that state. It also quotes his words at a rally at the Ellipse, when he told the crowd “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.” The crowd would go on to storm the Capitol.

“In all this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government,” the impeachment article states. “He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government.”

Pelosi last week called on Trump to resign, or for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, saying either option would be more efficient. But Pence declined to invoke the amendment on Tuesday, saying that it would set a “terrible precedent.”

Five people were killed in the attack, as rioters vandalized offices and members of Congress fled the floor. Pence, who was tasked with presiding over the certification, was hustled to a secure location. At about the same time, Trump was tweeting an attack on Pence, saying he “didn’t have the courage” to reject the election result.

Trump has been unrepentant in the week since, saying on Tuesday that his remarks at the “Save America Rally” near the White House were “totally appropriate.”

He also hinted that the effort to impeach him would only lead to more violence, saying that the move was “causing tremendous anger and division and pain — far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the U.S.A.”

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