House impeaches President Trump for 2nd time

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By WCBS Newsradio 880

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880) — The U.S. House has voted to impeach President Donald Trump, for a second time, following last week's violence at the Capitol and just days before he leaves office.

The final tally was 232-197 in favor of impeaching the president for "incitement of insurrection." Trump is the first and only U.S. president to be impeached twice.

The Associated Press reports the four-page impeachment resolution relies on Trump’s own incendiary rhetoric and the falsehoods he spread about President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory, including at a White House rally on the day of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, in building its case for high crimes and misdemeanors as demanded in the Constitution.

The impeachment debate got underway around 12:30 p.m. in the House chamber.

It began with the article of impeachment being read.

"He must go, he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love," said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was the first to address the House. "We know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country."

Ohio's Jim Jordan opened the debate for Republicans and said this is all about politics.

"Democrats are going to impeach the president for a second time one week before he leaves office. Why? Politics and the fact that they want to cancel the president," Jordan said.

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This second impeachment brought "yea" votes from 10 Republicans. Among them was New York's John Katko, a Republican who used to be the assistant U.S. Attorney in the Syracuse area.

"To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequences is a direct threat to the future of this democracy. For this reason, I will vote to impeach this president," he said before the vote.

Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House GOP leader, joined him. She said there "has never been a great betrayal" by a president.

Trump's first impeachment in 2019 brought no Republican votes.

The debate lasted about two hours and the vote came in around 4:30 p.m.

The article of impeachment will now go to the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed a willingness for this impeachment hearing.

Axios had been reporting the chances of him voting to convict Trump are better than 50-50.

But in a note to his fellow Republican senators Wednesday, McConnell said he remains undecided on how he will vote.

"While the press has been 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.," McConnell said.

Actual removal seems unlikely before Biden's inauguration, as McConnell has said he will not bring the Senate back before Jan. 19.

"The Senate process will now begin at our first regular meeting following receipt of the article from the House," McConnell said in a statement released after the House vote. "Given the rules, procedures, and Senate precedents that govern presidential impeachment trials, there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week. The Senate has held three presidential impeachment trials. They have lasted 83 days, 37 days and 21 days respectively."

McConnell said even if the Senate process were to start this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after Trump left office.

"The President-elect himself stated last week that his inauguration on January 20 is the 'quickest' path for any change in the occupant of the presidency," McConnell said, adding that Congress and the executive branch must now spend the next seven days "completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden Administration."

Backers of the effort believe that it would be legal for the Senate to convict Trump, even as a private citizen, with an eye toward preventing him from ever running for office again, CBS News White House correspondent Steven Portnoy reported.

Seeing this momentum building against him, the president said it would be dangerous.

"It's causing tremendous anger and division and pain, far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the U.S.A., especially at this very tender time," Trump said.

Trump took no responsibility for the riot, suggesting it was the drive to oust him rather than his actions around the bloody riot that was dividing the country.

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. Lawmakers had to scramble for safety and hide as rioters took control of the Capitol, delaying by hours the tally of Electoral College votes that was the last step in finalizing Biden's victory.

The outgoing president offered no condolences for those dead or injured, only saying, “I want no violence.”

Trump was impeached in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine but acquitted by the Senate in 2020.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.