WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump was impeached for a second time on Tuesday after ten Republican lawmakers turned against him over last week’s violent riot at the Capitol.
Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives with 232 votes in favor, 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 he has left the White House.
Trump has now made history as the first American president to be impeached twice.
But doubts remain about the course, and outcome, of the trial that will then take place in the Senate which currently retains its Republican majority. The Democrats will take control of the upper house on Jan. 20 but will need to rally many of the Republicans to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to convict him.
As long as they do not remove him from power, the Republicans’ “complicity” with the president will “endanger America,” Nancy Pelosi, Democratic House Speaker, said on Monday.
In addition, a trial could hinder the Democrats’ legislative action at the start of Joe Biden’s presidency by monopolizing Senate sessions.
President-elect Biden will be sworn in under heavy guard on Jan. 20 on the steps of the Capitol, the seat of the US Congress.
The House had on Tuesday approved a resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump with a Cabinet vote, although Pence had already said he would not do so in a letter to the speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi.
Trump, meanwhile, said on Tuesday that his speech to supporters before violence broke out at the US Capitol was “totally appropriate,” adding that impending impeachment proceedings against him were “ridiculous”. He claimed the move would arouse “immense anger” across the United States.
“This is the continuation of the biggest witch hunt in the history of the United States… It is causing tremendous anger,” the president said from the White House gardens. “I want no violence,” he added in his first statement to the press since the Jan. 6 violence that stunned America and the world.
As the political turmoil continued eight days before the end of his term, the White House occupant adopted a combative tone, denouncing the “catastrophic mistake” of social networks such as Twitter to suspend his account.
The FBI has warned of more potential armed protests in Washington and many states by Trump loyalists ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
The heads of five House of Representatives committees say they have “grave concerns about ongoing and violent threats” after a briefing from FBI officials about the riots at the Capitol.
Prosecutors are now weighing sedition charges against at least some of the Trump loyalists who stormed the building, US officials said Tuesday. — Euronews