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Wake Up To Politics - January 14, 2021

Wake Up To Politics: Trump impeached again
Wake Up To Politics - January 14, 2021

Good morning: it’s Thursday, January 14, 2021. Have questions or comments? Email me.

House impeaches Trump once again

In the more than two centuries of American history before Donald J. Trump took office in 2017, there had been two presidential impeachments. Now, in the past 13 months alone, there have been two more — a historic double rebuke of Trump by the House of Representatives.

One week before it is set to end, Trump’s presidency went down in history again on Wednesday as he became the first American commander-in-chief to ever be impeached twice by the House. The chamber voted 232-197 to impeach him on a single charge, “incitement of insurrection.” It was the most bipartisan impeachment vote in U.S. history, with 10 Republicans joining the entire Democratic caucus in support.

The vote took place in the very building that pro-Trump rioters stormed into exactly a week before. Stoked on by the president’s encouragement, the rioters clashed with police officers and busted down barriers to enter into Congress’ inner sanctum. They chanted “hang Pence” and “where’s Nancy,” referring to the Vice President and the Speaker of the House. Some carried zip ties and weapons. One put his feet on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk, another took one of her lecterns. A Trump supporter even breached the Senate chamber — home of “the world’s greatest deliberative body” — and sat in the chair of the presiding officer.

The rioters sought to disrupt Congress’ certification of Trump’s loss to President-elect Joe Biden, which Trump had yet to acknowledge. Usually a sign of the peaceful transfer of power in America, the day instead turned somber as five people died, including a Capitol Police officer.

All of that violence and vandalism, a majority of House members said Wednesday, was the fault of President Trump himself.

“He must go,” Pelosi said in a floor speech before the vote, wearing the same dress that she did for Trump’s first impeachment in 2019. “He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds the articles of impeachment after signing them. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

“He must go,” Pelosi said in a floor speech before the vote, wearing the same dress that she did for Trump’s first impeachment in 2019. “He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

The impeachment vote was notable for the relatively high level of support from the president’s own party — Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the chamber, was among the defectors — but the vast majority of House Republicans still stood with President Trump in opposing the last-ditch effort to remove him from office.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy acknowledged in a speech that “the president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” but argued that impeaching him would only serve to “further fan the flames of partisan division.”

The article of impeachment now heads to the Senate, where it is unclear if most Republicans will follow Cheney’s lead or McCarthy’s. The upper chamber is currently on recess, scheduled not to return until January 19 — Trump’s final full day in office. As such, the impeachment trial is expected to take place after his term has ended, possibly overshadowing Biden’s first days in office.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed Wednesday that he would not bring the chamber back early to begin the trial during Trump’s presidency, explaining that the proceedings would require more time than just a week anyway. “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 in a statement. “This is not a decision I am making; it is a fact.”

In a separate note to his fellow Republican senators, McConnell did not indicate if he would support or oppose convicting Trump. “While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” he said. His attitude towards Trump’s second impeachment is a stark reversal from the first one, when he steadfastly defended the president.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that McConnell has concluded that Trump committed impeachable offenses and privately supported the House’s efforts. It would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate (amounting to 67 senators, if all 100 are present) to convict Trump. If newly-elected Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia have been sworn in, 17 Republicans would need to vote in favor of conviction. No president has ever been convicted, nor has any been tried after leaving office.

Members of the National Guard stationed at the U.S. Capitol had of the impeachment vote, a reminder of the violence that plagued the building a week before. (Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)

If Trump is convicted, a majority vote of the Senate could then disqualify him from holding future office — a possibility being eyed by Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike.

Just minutes after the House voted to impeach him again, Trump released a five-minute video statement. He did not mention the impeachment vote, but did address what took place at the Capitol a week before. “I want to be very clear: I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week,” the president said, later adding that “no true supporter of mine could ever threaten or harass their fellow Americans.”

It was exactly the measured speech that many on both sides of the aisle had spent the last week urging him to make, a firm denunciation of the same people he had called “very special” just days before.

The only problem for Trump, as his days in office dwindle and his place in history appears increasingly precarious: It was already too late.


All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump has no public events scheduled. According to the White House, he will “work from early and in the morning until late in the evening” and “make many calls and have many meetings,” although none of them were specified.

Vice President Mike Pence will participate in a briefing on Inauguration security at 4 p.m. at FEMA headquarters.
President-elect Joe Biden will deliver remarks on the “public health and economic crises” at 7:15 p.m. in Wilmington, Delaware. He will outline his vaccination plan and his proposed stimulus package in the address.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will meet with transition advisers and participate in a virtual fundraiser for the Presidential Inaugural Committee. She will also attend President-elect Biden’s remarks.

The House and Senate are not in session.

The Supreme Court may release opinions at 10 a.m.

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