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House impeaches Trump for inciting attack on Capitol
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House impeaches Trump for inciting attack on Capitol

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One week after an attack on the Capitol, the House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection. 

Trump, who was impeached in December 2019, becomes the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. The vote was 232-197, with 10 Republicans — including central New York U.S. Rep. John Katko — joining 222 Democrats to impeach the president. 

The House approved one article charging Trump with "incitement of insurrection." It accuses the president of "inciting violence against the Government of the United States" after he made comments at a rally before the attack on the Capitol in which he told the crowd that if they "don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore." The article also references Trump's comments about the election results. He has falsely claimed the election was stolen and that there was widespread fraud. 

After the rally, thousands of pro-Trump supporters walked to the Capitol, where the House and Senate were meeting in a joint session to certify the Electoral College results. The mob overpowered Capitol Police officers and entered the Capitol. 

Trump was slow to react to the events unfolding at the Capitol. As videos of the attack were posted to social media, he remained quiet until posting tweets and video messages asking the crowd to go home. 

Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in the attack. 

In the aftermath of the insurrection, there were calls for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office. But Pence declined to take that action. 

The House proceeded with its impeachment vote on Wednesday. During the debate before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said those who attacked the Capitol are domestic terrorists. She urged her colleagues to support holding the president accountable for his role in the riot. 

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

Other Democrats agreed. U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said Trump poses a continuing threat to the country. There were no Democratic members who broke with the party and opposed impeaching the president. 

Some of the Republicans who supported impeachment either spoke on the House floor or issued statements during the debate or subsequent vote. Katko, R-Camillus, announced his support for impeachment on Tuesday. He delivered a House floor speech later that night as members considered a separate resolution. He believes that Trump's role in inciting violence at the Capitol is "undeniable."

"Both on social media ahead of Jan. 6 and in his speech that day, he deliberately promoted baseless theories creating a combustible environment of misinformation and division," Katko said. "To allow the president of the United States to incite the attack without consequences is a direct threat to the future of this democracy." 

But most GOP members voted against impeachment. Some, including U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, suggested that it was an attempt by Democrats to overturn the 2016 election results. Many argued that it would make the situation worse and not unify the country. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, acknowledged that Trump's actions were wrong. But he thinks the vote was a mistake because there have been no hearings held and investigations into the Capitol attack haven't been completed. 

"A vote to impeach would further divide this nation," McCarthy said. "A vote to impeach would further fan the flames of partisan division. Most Americans want neither. They want durable, bipartisan justice." 

Trump will leave office on Jan. 20 when Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president. Before he departs, he won't face a Senate impeachment trial — at least not yet. 

As the House was wrapping up its vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he wouldn't bring the Senate back to conduct the trial before Jan. 19. The trial will be held, but it won't begin until the early days of the Biden administration. 

While Trump won't be removed from office in his final days as president, the trial could lead to a conviction that prevents him from running again in 2024.

Trump is the first president to be impeached twice. He is the third president — Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson were the others — who has been impeached in U.S. history. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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