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 U.S. 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 on Wednesday to impeach Trump, with a single article of impeachment of “incitement of insurrection.”
The articles note both houses of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence were meeting in a joint session to certify the votes of the Electoral College.
The article of impeachment noted Trump had issued false statements in the aftermath of the Nov. 3 election alleging fraud. There has been no evidence of widespread fraud, according to federal and state officials, and the Trump campaign’s more than 50 legal challenges were unsuccessful in state and federal courts.
Shortly before the joint session of Congress began last week, Trump addressed a crowd at the Ellipse where he again made false accusations on the outcome of the election.
“He also willfully made statements that, in context, encourage — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol, such as ‘if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,’” the document states.
A Capitol Police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. The riot delayed the tally of Electoral College votes that was the last step in finalizing Biden's victory.
Investigators continue to comb through online posts, street surveillance and other evidence to identify individuals taking part in the riot. More than 170 case files have been opened with more than 70 people charged so far. Arrests include a Tennessee man who was pictured inside the Senate chamber with plastic zip ties. Eric Gavelek Munchel, 30, was arrested Sunday in Nashville and held on a federal warrant.
Ten Republicans joined Democrats who said Trump 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. It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in modern times, more so than against Bill Clinton in 1998. Joining Democrats in approving the article of impeachment was the third ranking House GOP leader, Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
Congressman John Rose, who represents Cumberland and the 6th Congressional District, did not support the House effort to impeach the president for a second time.
“Instead of pushing through a partisan impeachment that has had zero hearings nor presentation of evidence, we should start the hard work of restoring the American people’s faith in our institutions and address the real issues that are affecting this country, like how to get every citizen access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
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.
Conviction and removal of Trump would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate, which will be evenly divided between the parties.
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.
McConnell told major donors over the weekend that he was through with Trump, said the strategist, who demanded anonymity to describe McConnell's conversations.
In a note to colleagues Wednesday, McConnell said he had "not made a final decision on how I will vote" in a Senate impeachment trial.
Newly elected Sen. Bill Hagerty said in a statement, “At a time when the United States needs national healing and a true commitment to the rule of law, the American people should look to their legislators not to deepen partisan division, but to bring us together. There are seven days to go in the President’s term, and he has fully committed to a peaceful transfer of power.”
U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn said in a statement, “To persist with impeachment now, with just days to go in the current administration, will further divide Americans and exacerbate tensions. Moving forward, it is my sincere hope Congress will work on a bipartisan basis to restore the confidence of the American people in our elections, and affirm our shared commitment to the rule of law.”
Some in the county feel false information in the wake of the November Presidential Election led to the violence last week.
“The events of last Wednesday were not unforeseeable and are the direct result of people holding beliefs that don’t comport with reality,” said McKinley Tabor of Crossville.
Trump was banned from Twitter and Facebook last week and unmoderated social media platform Parler was removed from Amazon Web Services servers and its app removed from the Google Play and iTunes app stores. That has prompted calls of censorship.
Tabor said, “When we talk about rights and limiting those rights, we often say things like ‘Your right to swing a fist ends at someone else’s nose.’ I would extend that to include that your right to speak something that is factually inaccurate ends at someone else’s ears. People who spread lies and misinformation have no right to a platform to do so, and should be held accountable for harm they cause.”
Amanda Worely, chairman of the Cumberland County Republican Party, said that the party has been consistent in condemning riots and criminal actions that come from violent protests.
“Just as we condemned the riots and violence over the past summer, we strongly condemn the violence we saw at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021,” she said. “It was unacceptable and criminal. I hope that the perpetrators are prosecuted, just as I hoped those who committed violence across the nation in 2020 would be prosecuted, as well. We are a nation of laws and the courtrooms are where we should settle those differences.”
Worley said the peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of America’s democratic republic, but she questioned holding an impeachment vote just days before President-Elect Joe Biden is set to be sworn into office.
“This rushed process does not give the American people a voice,” she said.
With the announcement the Senate would not begin proceedings before the inauguration next week, Worley said, “An impeachment trial after President Trump has left office does nothing to heal the divide in our country. It is a time to stop the division.”