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January 14, 2021

House votes to impeach Trump for 2nd time

Gadgets2020The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump on charges he incited an "insurrection" at the U.S. Capitol a week ago.

The chamber voted 232-197 in favor of impeachment, making Trump the first U.S. president in history to be impeached twice.

Ten Republicans voted along with Democrats, including Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.

Despite the House vote, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell declined to convene an emergency session beginning Friday to open an impeachment trial in the upper chamber.

Representatives for McConnell told Axios and Huffington Post that the earliest the Senate will begin a trial is Tuesday, one day before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer asked McConnell to bring the chamber back sooner for an emergency session for a potential trial, citing a 2004 law that allows leaders in both parties to reconvene at any time.

Schumer told reporters the Senate should come back as soon as possible to "vote to convict Donald Trump and get him out of office now before any further damage is done."

Conviction in the Senate requires a two-thirds supermajority.

McConnell also told his Republican colleagues in a note Wednesday that a New York Times report Tuesday that indicated he might support voting to convict Trump was "full of speculation."

"I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate," he said in the note, according to his representative.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened debate earlier Wednesday after a procedural vote to approve rules.

Citing their duty to protect the Constitution "from all enemies foreign and domestic," Pelosi told lawmakers that Trump fomented an "armed rebellion" against the United States.

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

"The president must be impeached and he must be convicted by the Senate -- a constitutional remedy that will ensure the republic will be safe from this man who is so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear and that hold us together."

During the session Wednesday, some lawmakers recalled stories of how they were menaced by a violent pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6 as they were certifying President-elect Joe Biden's electoral win.

Wednesday's session began with lawmakers debating the rule establishing that there will be two hours of debate on the impeachment resolution.

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., chairman of the House rules committee, called the Capitol rioters "traitors" and "domestic terrorists" and emphasized Trump's culpability in provoking the violence.

"We wouldn't be here if it weren't for the president of the United States," he said.

"The [message] was unmistakable -- [that] these thugs should stage a coup so Donald Trump can hang onto power, the people's will be damned. This beacon of democracy became the site of a vicious attack.

"Rioters chanted, 'Hang Mike Pence,' as a noose and gallows were built. Capitol Police officers were beaten and sprayed with pepper spray. Attackers hunted down lawmakers to hold them hostage or worse," McGovern added.

Republican Rep. Tom Cole, who opposed certifying Biden's victory, argued against impeachment on Wednesday, accusing Democrats of moving to "divide us further" rather than seeking unity after the "darkest day."

McGovern answered, "We can't have unity without truth and without accountability -- and I'm not about to be lectured by people who just voted to overturn the results of a free and fair election."

Unlike Trump's first impeachment a year ago, the new charge has support from several Republicans in both the House and Senate who say Trump's false claims that the 2020 election was "stolen" was the catalyst for the Capitol attack.

Introduced on Monday, the article says Trump "gravely endangered" the security of the United States by inciting the mob attack.

Trump issued a statement Wednesday calling for calm as the transition takes place next week. Officials have said there's an indication that Trump supporters may plan more violent protests to coincide with Biden's inauguration.

"In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind. That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You," Trump said.

The House's move for impeachment came after Vice President Mike Pence refused Tuesday to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump.

The chamber voted 223-205 Tuesday to approve a resolution to urge Pence to convene the Cabinet and declare Trump "incapable of executing the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as acting president."

In a reply to Pelosi, Pence said he doesn't believe removing Trump would be in "the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution." He also asked the chamber to avoid an impeachment, which he argued would "further divide and inflame passions of the moment."

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