At around 1:43 p.m. Pacific today, the U.S. House added another dark laurel to the four-year tenure of president Donald J. Trump, impeaching him for a second time with 232 members, 10 of them Republicans, voting “yea,” 197 voting “nay,” and four abstaining, all GOP.
In the history of the United States, only three presidents; Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump have been impeached.
Johnson was impeached February 24, 1868, in his first term for high crimes and misdemeanors enunciated in 11 articles of impeachment, most to do with his removal from office secretary of war Edwin Stanton.
The Senate acquitted him on all counts and he served the remainder of his term that began when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, he failed to obtain his party’s nomination and left office after one term. He left office March 4, 1869.
Clinton was impeached during his second term December 19, 1998, on two articles, lying under oath and obstruction of justice over allegations of sexual impropriety with an intern.
He was acquitted on both counts February 12, 1999, and he remained in office until George W. Bush was inaugurated on January 20, 2001.
Donald Trump was impeached on two articles, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, December 18, 2019, over allegations that he’d solicited foreign interference to help him get elected in 2016.
The Senate acquitted him less than a year go on February 5, 2020.
His second impeachment comes after he lost the 2020 election but has falsely insisted since that the election was corrupt and that he’d actually won in a landslide, leading to a “Stop the Steal” insurrection January 6 as the U.S. Congress was meeting to certify the electoral college win, an event allegedly incited by the president himself.
His impeachment today, made just two days after the single article of impeachment for incitement of insurrection, came with minimal debate.
“I served with Ronald Reagan, with George H.W. Bush and George Bush, said Representative Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat. “I have respect for all of those presidents. They cared about our country. They honored our constitution and they executed the duties of the office consistent with the constitution and laws of our country. That is not true of this president. And therefore, he ought to be removed. And we have that opportunity to do so. Is there little time left? Yes. But it is never too late to do the right thing.”
Representative Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump for his strong support of the president, called on Republican colleague Liz Cheney to be removed from GOP leadership for supporting the impeachment push, said the House should be investigating allegations of voter fraud and said Democrats were obsessed with “getting the president no matter what.”
“It’s not just about impeachment anymore it’s about cancelling, as I’ve said, cancelling the president and anyone that disagrees with them,” he said. “The ayatollah can tweet the president can’t. Democrats can object on January 6th 2017 but Republicans aren’t allowed on January 6th 2021. Democrats say Antifa’s a myth, Republicans condemn all violence all the time. The double standard has to stop. And frankly, the attack on the first Amendment has to stop.”
Cheney, R-Wyoming, said she wasn’t going anywhere. The highest ranking of ten Republicans to cross party lines and vote for impeachment, was withering in her condemnation of the president.
“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack,” she said. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Tom McClintock, R-California, who voted with the Republican majority, disagreed.
“What did he actually say?” he asked “His exact words were, quote, ‘I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,’ unquote. That’s impeachable? That’s called freedom of speech. If we impeached every politician who gave a fiery speech to a crowd of partisans, this Capitol would be deserted. That’s what the president did, that is all he did. He specifically told the crowd to protest peacefully and patriotically.”
“Others, including myself, are responsible for not speaking out sooner, before the president misinformed and inflamed a violent mob who tore down the American flag and brutally beat Capitol police officers,” Washington Republican Dan Newhouse said in supporting impeachment. “Madam Speaker, we must all do better. These articles of impeachment are flawed, but I will not use process as an excuse. There is no excuse for President Trump’s actions. The president took an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Last week, there was a domestic threat at the door of the Capitol, and he did nothing to stop it. That is why with a heavy heart and clear resolve, I will vote yes on these articles of impeachment.”
Unlike the first impeachment process, Trump, banned from most of his social media, his favored means of communication, was eerily silent as the vote was being taken, though he did release a video shortly after the impeachment was voted on condemning the violent insurrection a week ago today that left five people dead..
“I want to be very clear. I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week,” he said. “Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and our movement. Making America Great Again has always been about defending the rule of law, supporting the men and women of law enforcement and upholding our nation’s most sacred traditions and values. Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for.”
To have any actual effect, the articles of impeachment must result in conviction in the Senate.
The House, which has sole constitutional authority to bring impeachment charges, will now pass the article of impeachment to the Senate, given sole authority to try impeachment cases, and appoint “managers” to present the House case much as a prosecutor before a judge and jury. The president may appoint counsel to represent him through the proceedings.
To convict, a super majority of two-thirds of the 100 senators must vote “aye.”
Though the president’s term ends on Wednesday, January 20, when president-elect Joe Biden and incoming vice-president Kamala Harris are sworn in, and it’s unlikely that the Senate will take up the articles before then, the “trial” can continue after the accused leaves office.
In the event the Senate upholds the impeachment and votes for the first time to convict a former U.S. President, the president can be stripped of his lifetime salary, travel and other expenses, as well as benefits that would accrue to the former first lady should he die, and he could be barred from ever holding an office of public trust in the United States.