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Monday, 18 January 2021

Trump impeached for 'inciting' US Capitol riot in historic second charge

 

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Donald Trump has become the first president in US history to be impeached twice, after being charged with "incitement of insurrection" over last week's deadly storming of Congress.

The House of Representatives accused Mr Trump of encouraging violence with his false claims of election fraud.

He now faces trial in the upper chamber, the Senate, but not before he leaves office next Wednesday.

Senators can vote to bar him from ever holding public office again.

In a video released after the vote in the House on Wednesday, Mr Trump called on his followers to remain peaceful, without mentioning his impeachment.

"Violence and vandalism have no place in our country... No true supporter of mine would ever endorse political violence," he said, striking a sombre and conciliatory tone.

The FBI has warned of possible armed protests planned for Washington DC and all 50 US state capitals in the days before Joe Biden, a Democrat, is inaugurated as the new US president.

What was Trump charged with?

Impeachment charges are political, not criminal. The president was accused by the House of inciting the storming of the Capitol - the seat of the US Congress - with a speech on 6 January to supporters outside the White House.

He urged them to "peacefully and patriotically" make their voices heard, but also to "fight like hell" against an election that he falsely told them had been stolen.

Following Mr Trump's remarks, his supporters broke into the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to suspend certification of election results and take shelter. The building was placed on lockdown and five people died in the melee.

The article of impeachment stated that Mr Trump "repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the presidential election results were fraudulent and should not be accepted".

It says he then repeated these claims and "wilfully made statements to the crowd that encouraged and foreseeably resulted in lawless action at the Capitol", leading to the violence and loss of life.

"President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government, threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperilled a coequal branch of government."

Last week, 139 Republicans voted against accepting the result of the 2020 election and Mr Trump's defeat.

Impeachment: The basics

  • What is impeachment? Impeachment is when a sitting president is charged with crimes. In this case, President Trump was charged with inciting insurrection by encouraging his supporters to storm the Capitol.
  • Could Trump be removed from office? The House of Representatives has impeached him, moving the case to the Senate for a trial. But a trial will not be carried out before Mr Trump leaves office on 20 January.
  • So what does it mean? A trial can happen after his term ends, and senators can vote to bar him from holding public office again.

What did lawmakers say during the debate?

For two hours on Wednesday, members of the Democratic-controlled House made statements for and against the vote in the same chamber where they hid under chairs and donned gas masks as rioters tried to force their way inside last week.

National Guard troops kept watch inside and outside the Capitol. Ten of Mr Trump's Republican party joined Democrats to impeach him by 232-197.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said on the House floor: "The president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country. He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love."

Democratic congressman Julian Castro called Mr Trump "the most dangerous man to ever occupy the Oval Office".

Most Republicans did not seek to defend Mr Trump's rhetoric, instead arguing that the impeachment had bypassed the customary hearings and calling on Democrats to drop it for the sake of national unity.

"Impeaching the president in such a short time frame would be a mistake," said Kevin McCarthy, the House's top Republican. "That doesn't mean the president's free from fault. The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters."

Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, accused Democrats of recklessly dividing the country to pursue a political vendetta. "This is about getting the president of the United States. It's always been about getting the president, no matter what. It's an obsession."

Among members of the president's party who voted to impeach him was the third-ranking House Republican, Liz Cheney. The Wyoming representative, the daughter of former Vice-President Dick Cheney, said of the riot that "there has never been a greater betrayal by a president".

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