Takeaways from the House's vote to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time

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Here’s what’s at stake if President Donald Trump is impeached (again).

USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time, a move that drew support from a handful of Republicans who agreed that Trump incited violence at the Capitol last week.

Trump was impeached on an insurrection charge with 232 members of Congress voting to impeach and 197 voting against.

The article of impeachment was debated one week after a deadly riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, the day Congress counted the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden’s win. The rampage that interrupted the count left one police officer dead, a rioter fatally shot and three others dead from medical emergencies.

The article of impeachment charges the president with “incitement of insurrection” for “spreading false statements” about the election and challenging the Electoral College results.

Read USA TODAY’s live coverage: House votes to impeach Trump on insurrection charge

Here are the top takeaways from Wednesday’s impeachment proceedings:

10 Republicans vote to impeach Trump

Though Republicans were united in opposing the first impeachment of Trump in 2019, 10 broke ranks Wednesday when they voted alongside Democrats to impeach the president.

They included, including the third-ranking House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming. She was joined by:

  • Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y. 
  • Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.
  • Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.
  • Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.
  • Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Mich.
  • Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C.
  • Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif.
  • Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio

“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Cheney said in a stark, three-paragraph statement. “Everything that followed was his doing.”

Cheney’s words became a key argument for Democrats as they urged their Republican colleagues to join them in voting for impeachment.

“This is not some irresponsible new member of the Congress of the United States. This is the daughter of the former Republican Whip and a former vice president of the United States of America,” Majority leader Steney Hoyer, D-Md., said of his Republican colleague from Wyoming whose father is former Vice President Dick Cheney. “She knows of what she speaks.”

Cheney’s support for impeachment drew condemnation from fellow Republicans such as Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio, who are calling for her to step down.

‘Betrayal’: Powerful GOP support for Trump’s impeachment shows major Republican shift after Capitol riot

Cheney told reporters Wednesday she would not give up her position in party leadership despite calls from some House Republicans to step down after she said she would vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

“Last week there was a domestic threat at the door of the Capitol and he did nothing to stop it,” Newhouse said. “That is why with a heavy heart and clear resolve, I will vote yes on these articles of impeachment,” he said to applause from the Democratic side of the House.

Newhouse said that while the article of impeachment is flawed, he would support it.

“There’s no excuse for President Trump’s actions,” Newhouse said.

Other Republicans acknowledge Trump wrongdoing but call impeachment divisive

Though some Republicans split with their party, the majority opposed impeachment, with many arguing that removing Trump from office would only further splinter an already divided country. But some Republicans have said Trump’s efforts to question the election results and then stoke a violent mob require a response.

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said Trump gave a fiery speech outside the White House before the crowded riot in the Capitol but shouldn’t be blamed for the “lunatic fringe” of his political movement.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said while Trump bears some responsibility for the riot, impeaching Trump would be a mistake.

McCarthy called the Capitol riot “undemocratic, un-American and criminal,” but said “impeaching the president in such a short timeframe would be a mistake.”

“A vote to impeach will further divide the nation. A vote to impeach will further fan the flames of partisan division,” the California Republican said.

McCarthy said Trump should have immediately denounced the mob. McCarthy said the president should work to quell brewing unrest and ensure a peaceful transition Biden.

A censure resolution would be prudent instead of impeachment, McCarthy said. Censuring the president would deliver a formal reprimand to Trump, but Republicans such as Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs are opposed to even that measure.

Some House Republicans argued Wednesday that instead of impeaching Trump, Congress should create a commission to study what happened last week. Modeled after the bipartisan commission that analyzed the 9/11 terrorism attacks, the body would recommend how to prevent attacks on the Capitol in the future.

The top Republican on the House Rules Committee urged lawmakers not to move forward with a snap impeachment, saying it would deny Trump due process.

“Rather than seeking to heal America, they’re trying to divide up more deeply,” said Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole as the House began debate on the rules setting up debate on the impeachment resolution.

Democrats stress the importance of moving swiftly

The difference between the last time Trump was impeached and Wednesday’s impeachment is a month versus a year in its making. Democrats said there wasn’t need for a long inquiry this time.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who has participated all four modern impeachment investigations, said there was no need for the extensive review of the facts and uncovering of evidence required in previous cases.

“What happened this time happened this time was in plain view,” Lofgren said “He incited a right-wing mob of insurrections to come and overturn constitutional government a week ago. You don’t need a long investigation to find that out.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., quoted President Abraham Lincoln, St. Paul from the Bible and President John F. Kennedy in arguing that lawmakers bear a responsibility to remove Trump’s threat to the country. “He must go,” she said. “He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

Although Trump has only days left in his presidency, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said Trump poses a continuing threat to the nation, to the integrity of elections and to democratic order.

“He must not remain in power one moment longer,” Nadler said.

“Is there little time left? Yes,” Hoyer said. “But it is never too late to do the right thing.”

Trump becomes first president to be impeached twice

House Democrats previously impeached Trump in December 2019 for charges that he abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress in his dealings with Ukraine. The Republican-led Senate acquitted him in February 2020.

He was then accused of improperly using the power of his office to pressure Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, in order to help Trump win the 2020 election.

A majority of the Senate voted less than a year ago to acquit Trump – far shy of the two-thirds majority needed for conviction. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah was the only Republican to join Democrats in voting to convict on one of the articles.

Two other presidents have been impeached — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton — but Trump became the first to be impeached twice on Wednesday. No president has been removed from office.

What comes next

The House’s vote to impeach Trump is just the first step on the road to removing him from office. The Senate is required to convict Trump of the charge of insurrection in order to remove him, but it is likely the Senate will not convene for a trial until Trump has already left office and after Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20.

The Senate is currently on a recess break and is set to reconvene Tuesday – the day before the inauguration. Democrats have been hopeful in immediately moving forward on a trial, but the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office and indicated a trial would not occur until the Senate is back in session, according to Doug Andres, a spokesman for McConnell.

Democrats have said that convicting Trump could ensure he is unable to take office again, which would make it impossible for Trump to run for a second term as president in 2024 as he has indicated he plans to do.

Still, Democrats are reluctant to begin a trial just as Biden’s term begins. Pelosi has said she’s reviewing the timing, but hasn’t announced a decision on when to transmit the article to the Senate.

While McConnell controls the Senate floor and its schedule, Schumer has floated the possibility of invoking a rarely used emergency provision that would force the Senate back in session if both leaders consented. However, McConnell won’t consent, his spokesman said.

Contributing: Bart Jansen, Maureen Groppe, Ledyard King, Nicholas Wu, Christal Hayes and David Jackson

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