By LISA MASCARO, MARY CLARE JALONICK, JONATHAN LEMIRE and ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House for a historic second time Wednesday, charged with “incitement of insurrection” over the deadly mob siege of the Capitol in a swift and stunning collapse of his final days in office.
With the Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops inside and out, the House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump.
The proceedings moved at lightning speed, with lawmakers voting just one week after violent pro-Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol, egged on by the president’s calls for them to “fight like hell” against the election results.
Ten Republicans fled Trump, joining Democrats who said he needed to be held accountable and warned ominously of a “clear and present danger” if Congress should leave him unchecked before Democrat Joe Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20.
Trump is the only U.S. president to be twice impeached.
The Capitol insurrection stunned and angered lawmakers, who were sent scrambling for safety as the mob descended, and it revealed the fragility of the nation’s history of peaceful transfers of power.
The riot 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 soonest Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would start an impeachment trial is next Tuesday, the day before Trump is already set to leave the White House, McConnell’s office said. The legislation is also intended to prevent Trump from ever running again.
McConnell believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and considers the Democrats’ impeachment drive an opportunity to reduce the divisive, chaotic president’s hold on the GOP, a Republican strategist told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Rep. Cliff Bentz of Oregon’s Second Congressional District voted against the impeachment.
In a statement, Bentz cited the importance of unifying the nation around a peaceful transition to the Biden Administration.
“I continue to share the emotions many are feeling in the aftermath of the unprecedented and unacceptable violence this past week. But the current rush-to-judgment impeachment proceedings have only succeeded in dividing our country even more,” he said. “I voted against impeachment because our focus should be on unifying our nation, ensuring a peaceful transition to the Biden Administration, and working to address the pressing issues facing our country and Oregon’s Second Congressional District. I came to Congress to stand up for rural communities across my district by addressing the terrible damage caused by recent wildfires, reforming the laws that govern our water rights, and ensuring we help those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In a statement, Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley once again said Trump was “completely unfit to be president.”
“He has waged an unceasing insurrection against our laws and Constitution since he lost the election, capped off by inciting a domestic terror attack on our nation’s Capitol,” Merkley said in a statement. “Every day that he remains in the Oval Office and his dangerous attacks on our democracy go unanswered is a serious threat to the safety of the American people and the institutions of our democratic republic. I applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for taking swift and decisive action today to hold this president accountable for his dangerous and unrepentant behavior.
“It is now the responsibility of the U.S. Senate to convene, to immediately hold an impeachment trial. We face arguably the most serious threat to the integrity of our national government since the Civil War. This is no time for partisan calculations and personal ambition to drive decisions. Everyone who believes in our Constitution and the rule of law should come together to defend America. Our nation desperately needs full accountability in order to seek justice and heal from last week’s disturbing violence.”