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Trump impeached after siege
  • Updated

WASHINGTON — 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 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 to impeach Trump. The proceedings moved at lightning speed, with lawmakers voting just one week after violent pro-Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol, egged on by the president's calls for them to "fight like hell" against the election results.

Ten Republicans fled Trump, joining Democrats who said he 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.

The Capitol insurrection stunned and angered lawmakers, who were sent scrambling for safety as the mob descended, and it revealed the fragility of the nation's history of peaceful transfers of power. The riot also forced a reckoning among some Republicans, who have stood by Trump throughout his presidency and largely allowed him to spread false attacks against the integrity of the 2020 election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invoked Abraham Lincoln and the Bible, imploring lawmakers to uphold their oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign "and domestic."

She said of Trump: "He must go, he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love."

Holed up at the White House, watching the proceedings on TV, Trump later released a video statement in which he made no mention at all of the impeachment but appealed to his supporters to refrain from any further violence or disruption of Biden's inauguration.

"Like all of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity at the Capitol last week," he said, his first condemnation of the attack. He appealed for unity "to move forward" and said, "Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. ... No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement."

Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 acquit. He is the first president to be impeached twice. None has been convicted by the Senate, but Republicans said Wednesday that could change in the rapidly shifting political environment as officeholders, donors, big business and others peel away from the defeated president.

Biden said in a statement after the vote that it was his hope the Senate leadership "will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation."

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.

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."

Unlike his first time, Trump faces this impeachment as a weakened leader, having lost his own reelection as well as the Senate Republican majority.

Even Trump ally Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, shifted his position and said Wednesday the president bears responsibility for the horrifying day at the Capitol.

In making a case for the "high crimes and misdemeanors" demanded in the Constitution, the four-page impeachment resolution approved Wednesday relies on Trump's own incendiary rhetoric and the falsehoods he spread about Biden's election victory, including at a rally near the White House on the day of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

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.

Ten Republican lawmakers, including third-ranking House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, voted to impeach Trump, cleaving the Republican leadership, and the party itself.

Cheney, whose father is the former Republican vice president, said of Trump's actions summoning the mob that "there has never been a greater betrayal by a President" of his office.

Trump was said to be livid with perceived disloyalty from McConnell and Cheney.

With the team around Trump hollowed out and his Twitter account silenced by the social media company, the president was deeply frustrated that he could not hit back, according to White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing who weren't authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

From the White House, Trump leaned on Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to push Republican senators to resist, while chief of staff Mark Meadows called some of his former colleagues on Capitol Hill.

The president's sturdy popularity with the GOP lawmakers' constituents still had some sway, and most House Republicans voted not to impeach.

Security was exceptionally tight at the Capitol, with tall fences around the complex. Metal-detector screenings were required for lawmakers entering the House chamber, where a week earlier lawmakers huddled inside as police, guns drawn, barricaded the door from rioters.

"We are debating this historic measure at a crime scene," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

During the debate, some Republicans repeated the falsehoods spread by Trump about the election and argued that the president has been treated unfairly by Democrats from the day he took office.

Other Republicans argued the impeachment was a rushed sham and complained about a double standard applied to his supporters but not to the liberal left. Some simply appealed for the nation to move on.

Rep. Tom McClintock of California said, "Every movement has a lunatic fringe."

Conviction and removal of Trump would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate, which will be evenly divided. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to "go away as soon as possible."


Govt-and-politics
breaking alert top story
Axne Iowa’s lone Congressional vote to impeach Trump; 3 Republicans vote against
  • Updated

DES MOINES — Cindy Axne, the only Democrat in Iowa’s congressional delegation, cast the lone vote from the state in favor of impeaching Republican President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

Axne

Iowa’s Republican U.S. House members, Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Randy Feenstra, voted against impeachment.

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It was the second time the Democratic-majority U.S. House impeached Trump during his term, which ends next week, this time over his “incitement of insurrection” after his lies about election fraud and incendiary calls to action provoked a siege on the U.S. Capitol last week that left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer.

Contributed 

Miller-Meeks

Ten Republican U.S. House members joined Democrats in voting for impeachment.

The three Iowa Republicans who voted against impeachment — all freshmen members in their first days in office — said they believe impeachment will prevent the nation from moving forward together.

“President Trump, who has committed to a peaceful transition of power, only has seven days left in his term. It is time for our country to come together and move forward — not to pursue divisive and rushed political exercises,” Rep. Randy Feenstra, who represents western Iowa’s 4th District, said in a statement. “It has been a challenging year, but we must not forget that we are one nation, under God — and I’m confident that together, we can work towards a brighter future.”

Hinson

Mariannette Miller-Meeks, speaking on a Cedar Rapids news radio program, said impeaching Trump a week shy of the end of his term would “only further divide the nation and make it more difficult for President-elect Joe Biden to unify and lead our nation.”

Asked whether Trump needs to be held accountable for inciting last week’s mob violence, Miller-Meeks said, “There are (other) ways to hold the president accountable.” She noted House Republicans had offered alternatives, including censuring Trump. Democrats panned censure as a slap on the wrist not commensurate with the charges brought against Trump.

Feenstra

Axne, in her second term representing central and southwest Iowa’s 3rd District, said she voted to impeach because Trump’s “dangerous and deceitful rhetoric” sparked the U.S. Capitol attacks.

“The president’s actions — the deliberate repetition of falsehoods and calls to ignore a democratic election — must have consequences,” Axne said in a statement. “Incitement of an insurrection is a high crime against the United States, and the constitutional consequence for such an act is impeachment.”

Axne also disputed Republicans’ argument that impeaching Trump with just a week left in office is unnecessary.

“Regardless of the remaining time in the president’s term, his crime is too great for us to ignore. For the safety of our nation and its citizens, President Trump must be removed from office,” Axne said.

The House’s vote to impeach does not remove Trump from office. That would require a conviction in the U.S. Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, on Wednesday said there is not sufficient time to complete the procedure in that chamber before Trump’s term ends.

Rep. Ashley Hinson, who represents eastern Iowa’s 1st District, said Trump bears responsibility for the attacks on the Capitol and she wishes Trump had spoken sooner to quell the rioters. But Hinson voted against impeachment, citing what she described as a rushed process and, again, a concern about its impact on a divided nation.

“Impeachment will only serve to feed the flames and further divide our nation,” Hinson said in a statement. “Next week, there will be a peaceful transition of power to the Biden Administration, and we must refocus on moving this country forward and solving the everyday problems facing Americans. … While last week was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history, I am committed to unifying our country and serving Iowans because I know there will be brighter days ahead.”

Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said he was “ashamed of the insurrectionists that broke into our Capitol,” but he sees no point in impeaching Trump at this time.

“But there’s a lot of irritation people want to express, and this is one way of doing it,” Grassley said during an interview on KXEL-AM radio. However, with just a week until the inauguration, “I haven’t been thinking about anything except how can I work with President Biden, first of all, to do what he says he wants to do — unite the country. If Chuck Grassley can help him do that, I want to do that.

“(Biden) needs to get his cabinet in place right away. For most of the people he’s nominated, I probably can help him do that. We need to get the show on the road and his program. Anything that we did with impeachment would detract from it. Even the talk of it detracts from it.”

A spokesman for Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst said she is “focused on ensuring a peaceful transfer of power, keeping our country safe and secure, and truly healing our nation.”

Iowa Democratic Party chairman Mark Smith, in a statement, described Trump as a “clear and present danger to the Constitution,” and called the Iowa Republicans who voted against impeachment spineless.

“Rather than stand up to sedition, Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and Randy Feenstra have chosen Trump over their oath to the Constitution,” Smith said. “They should be ashamed of their spinelessness and Iowans will hold them accountable.”

Reporters James Q. Lynch of the Gazette in Cedar Rapids and Tom Barton of the Quad City Times contributed.


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