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After over two hours of debate, the US House of Representatives last Wednesday impeached President Donald Trump for the second time. With just a week more to go for Trump’s exit from office, the House voted 232-197 in favor of the impeachment motion tabled by the Democratic Party. The motion charges the president with a single article of impeachment, “incitement of insurrection”, over the role played by him in the Capitol storming last week.
This makes Trump the first president in US history to have been impeached twice. He was previously impeached on December 18, 2019. Unlike the previous instance, where the votes were divided strictly along partisan lines, this time, 10 Republican Party legislators also voted in favor of the motion, making this the most bipartisan impeachment vote in US history.
“Today in a bipartisan way the House demonstrated that no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States,” stated House speaker Nancy Pelosi after signing the article of impeachment.
On January 6, when Trump supporters had stormed the Capitol building, while the Congress was in session to certify the presidential election results, Trump was seen repeating his claims of a “stolen election”.
Right before the building was stormed, Trump addressed thousands of his supporters assembled in a “Stop the Steal” rally outside the White House with a speech refusing to concede the results and promised a “fight like hell”. He was also on record for asking the protesters to march on the US Congress.
The violent incident led to five deaths and dozens were injured. A state of emergency is currently in place in Washington DC until after the Inauguration Day on January 20. Security forces across the country are also gearing up for more possible violent incidents, as pro-Trump and far-right groups are calling for armed protests in all the states.
The House is now to send the impeachment motion to the Senate, where the president will be tried under the charges laid out. For the president to be convicted, the Senate will have to vote with a two-thirds majority, or 67 out of the total 100 votes, to pass the article of impeachment. After conviction, a second vote with a simple majority will be needed to bar Trump permanently from holding any federal office.
The Democratic-run House is yet to decide on the timeline of passing on the process to the Senate. The Senate is only expected to resume its session on January 19, right before Inauguration Day. But once impeached, the president can be tried by the Senate, even after leaving office.
As the Senate will continue to be led by the Republican Party until mid-February, when the two Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are set to take office, it is expected that the House Democratic leaders will delay the process well into the upcoming presidency of Joe Biden.