US President Donald Trump was impeached for a second time Tuesday over his role in last week’s violent riot at the Capitol.
Arguing he incited an “armed rebellion” against the US, the Democrat-dominated House voted to impeach Trump again. But with his term expiring in a week, it is unclear when the trial will proceed.
Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives with 232 votes in favour, and 197 against, on the charge of incitement of insurrection.
The impeachment vote was the most bipartisan in history with 10 Republican lawmakers breaking ranks, compared to the five Democrats who voted to impeach Bill Clinton in 1998.
The trial in the Senate is not expected to start until after Trump has left the White House.
Trump ‘unequivocally’ condemns attack on US Capitol
After the House voted 232 to 197 to impeach him – with the support of 10 Republicans – Trump released a video statement that did not mention the historic development that had occurred a few hours earlier.
In a video message posted to the official White House Twitter account Wednesday, Trump struck a conciliatory tone, urging Americans to “overcome the passions of the moment and join together as one American people,” while disavowing those who resorted to violence in the name of his cause.
Instead, he called for calm as the threat of new riots – which Trump said he’d been briefed on by the Secret Service – casts a pall over Washington.
President-elect Biden will be sworn in under heavy guard on January 20 on the steps of the Capitol, the seat of the US Congress.
“No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence. No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement or our great American flag.”
Trump noted that the Jan. 6 mayhem that saw a crowd of his supporters forcing their way into the Capitol “angered and appalled millions of Americans across the political spectrum.”
“I want to be clear. I unequivocally condemn the violence we saw last week.”
While much was made of a handful of Republicans – led by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) who said they would back impeachment, much of the party stood by the president and spoke to that effect.
“If we impeached every politician who gave a fiery speech to a crowd of partisans, this capital would be deserted,” said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-California).
“That’s what the president did. That is all he did. He specifically told the crowd to protest peacefully and patriotically, and the vast majority of them did. But every movement has a lunatic fringe. Suppressing free speech is not the answer. Holding rioters accountable for their actions is the answer.”
“It’s always been about getting the president no matter what,” said Rep. Jim Jordan.
“It’s an obsession that has now broadened. It’s not just about impeachment anymore. It’s about canceling the president and anyone that disagrees with them.”
“We’ve been here before. We’ve done this before. This has failed before. We fractured our nation using the same process before,” said Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-New Jersey).