Donald Trump became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, as 10 of his fellow Republicans joined Democrats in the House of Representatives to charge him with inciting an insurrection after last week’s riots at the U.S. Capitol.
The Democratic controlled house voted 232-197 to oust Mr Trump, but it is unlikely for the Senate to confirm his impeachment before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20.
The Senate’s Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, rejected Democratic calls for a quick impeachment trial, saying there was no way to conclude it before Trump leaves office. But even if he has left the White House, a Senate conviction of Trump could lead to a vote on banning him from running for office again.
Biden said it was important that a Senate impeachment trial in the early days of his term not delay work on his legislative priorities, including Cabinet confirmations, and urged Senate leaders to find a way to do both at the same time.
The House passed a single article of impeachment – a formal charge – accusing Trump of “incitement of insurrection,” focused on an incendiary speech he delivered a week earlier to thousands of supporters shortly before the pro-Trump mob rampaged through the Capitol.
“The president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said on the House floor before the vote. “He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
At a later ceremony, she signed the article of impeachment before it is sent to the Senate, saying she did it “sadly, with a heart broken over what this means to our country.”
No U.S. president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. Three – Trump in 2019, Bill Clinton in 1998 and Andrew Johnson in 1868 – previously were impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate.
Mr Trump is yet to make a statement on his latest impeachment vote.
Meanwhile thousands of rifle-carrying National Guard troops have been deployed inside and outside the Capitol.