The United States House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday, January 13th for inciting a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, condemning Trump’s behavior and blamed him for sparking the insurrection.
The House voted 232 to 197 to impeach Trump. Ten Republicans joined the Democratic effort – including Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House Republican – making it the most bipartisan impeachment in US history.
“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” said House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., while warning that a second Trump impeachment would further divide America.
According to the format for impeaching a sitting president, The House introduces and passes the articles of impeachment, but the Senate is where the person being impeached faces a trial — and potential punishment.
A more consequential vote awaits later this month in the Senate, where Trump’s party is hardly rallying to his side. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate will proceed with a trial and hold a vote on Trump’s conviction. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate will proceed with a trial and hold a vote on Trump’s conviction:
“A Senate trial can begin immediately, with agreement from the current Senate Majority Leader to reconvene the Senate for an emergency session, or it will begin after January 19th. But make no mistake, there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate; there will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors; and if the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again. The president of the United States incited a violent mob against the duly elected government of the United States in a vicious, depraved and desperate attempt to remain in power. For the sake of our democracy, it cannot and must not be tolerated, excused, or go unpunished.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hasn’t ruled out convicting Trump, giving fellow Republicans cover if they choose that option. That step could ultimately prevent Trump from holding public office again. McConnell said Wednesday that the chamber could take up the issue at its “first regular meeting following receipt of the article from the House.” But he said a trial couldn’t be held before Trump’s term expires at noon Jan. 20. The Senate next meets on Tuesday. “Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office,” McConnell said.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is reported to be “livid” with Trump and who is not whipping his colleagues to vote against conviction. McConnell is now 78 years old. He may decide that this is his last term in office and end up voting for conviction. What McConnell does will have a definitive impact on his colleagues. If he continues to signal his desire to rid the Republican Party of Trump it is likely that others will follow. For instance, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) won a 9-point victory over her Democratic challenger while Trump was losing the state of Maine to Biden by 9 points.
Since the House passed just one article of impeachment, rather than the two the chamber passed during Trump’s first impeachment in 2019, a Senate trial could be shorter, said a source familiar with the impeachment trial plans, but who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. The source added that witnesses would likely be part of the trial but cautioned that lawmakers were just beginning their work and would be having daily meetings to discuss strategy. One reason Democrats want to hold a trial even after Trump leaves office is to bar him from future office, if he’s convicted. But conviction requires two-thirds –or 67 votes – in the closely divided Senate.
Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) is the only senator who has said clearly that he is open to convicting Trump. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) voted to convict last year when Trump was impeached over his phone call with the Ukrainian president. The charges in this impeachment are equally if not more serious, so it seems likely that he too may vote to convict. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA) have also made statements signaling that they’ve had enough of Trump. Murkowski just wants him out, saying “He has caused enough damage,” and Toomey thinks he committed impeachable offenses but is unsure whether impeachment makes sense this close to the end of the Trump presidency.
So if all four of these senators ended up voting to convict Trump, 13 others would have to join to have him convicted. Most of the other senators are keeping their opinions close, and for good reason. A lot could change between now January 19th, which is the earliest the Senate could begin a trial. If the violence we saw on January 6th is repeated it will probably move some more Republicans towards voting for conviction.
If they listen to President Trump’s belated requests for “NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind,” the air may go out of the conviction balloon. In the past week Donald Trump’s support has been shrinking by the moment. In the end, if 17 Republican senators vote to convict it will probably be because of the way Trump has conducted his presidency, indulging his autocratic beliefs and treating others with legitimate claims to power as if they were groundskeepers at one of his golf clubs. As House Majority Leader Hoyer said in the final moments of debate on the floor of the House: “Donald Trump demands absolute loyalty and gives none in return.” More than anything else that may be his undoing
“The president of the United States incited a violent mob against the duly elected government of the United States in a vicious, depraved and desperate attempt to remain in power,” Schumer said. “For the sake of our democracy, it cannot and must not be tolerated, excused, or go unpunished.”
(Picture Courtesy: Boston Globe)