In a hurried and bombastic session of the House of Representatives, a vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump has been passed. The vote marks the first time in American history that a president has been impeached twice.
Representatives from both sides of the aisle issued their arguments in a debate that ranged from sharp admonishment and specious grandstanding to partisan defensiveness and political line-walking and lasted more than three hours. A lot of focus was given to Wednesday’s breach of the Capitol, while little attention was paid to due process and the wishes of constituents.
A total of 232 members of the House, including 10 Republicans, voted to impeach President Trump; 197 voted against. This is the second time in 13 months that President Trump has been impeached. There have been 21 successful impeachments in U.S. history.
Read the full articles of impeachment here.
No one expected much pushback from Democrats, many of whom have been rallying for impeachment since the beginning of the president’s term. Yet, many were surprised to see 10 Republicans departing their party line to vote in favor of the impeachment. When Trump was impeached the first time, no Republicans voted for the motion.
With the vote cast, the motion will be sent to the Senate to verify the articles of impeachment to be tried. It is still unclear when the House will send the articles to the Senate. Some Washington insiders have posited that the House may wait to send the articles of impeachment until after President-elect Biden has been able to fully confirm his cabinet.
Such a move would benefit the proponents of impeachment: Waiting to send the articles until Democrats have the majority in the Senate and the support of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would increase the likelihood of achieving the two-thirds supermajority needed to convict President Trump.
Though very unlikely, it is possible that the Senate would convene prior to the inauguration on January 20. Still, convicting the president of the charges will require at least 17 Republicans to jump ship and join their Democratic colleagues in the evenly-split 100-member chamber.
According to media outlets, if convicted by the Senate, another vote could be held to block him from running for elected office again. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has confirmed that, at least for now, the Senate will not convene until the 19 of January. This leaves no time for a thorough hearing.
Fox News quoted McConnell as having said that there is “simply no chance for a fair trial” to be completed before the president’s term expires. McConnell said on Wednesday that he has decided how he will vote.
“I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” he said.
Pundits are already projecting that McConnell, who will lose his majority leader position in just a few days, will begin a kind of political horse trade with Senate Democrats. His effort will no doubt be to retain as much political power as possible and salvage the dignity of the Republican Party in the midst of a massive media condemnation of the president and his backers.
Such a move is sure to frustrate conservative constituents who are tired of the kind of insider politicking that the Trump administration has been so outspokenly against.
Politics and procedures aside, the impeachment comes at an incredibly tense time for the Republic: Thousands of National Guard troops have been deployed to the Capitol, furthermore, law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have warned that violence could break out in the coming days.