Donald Trump on Wednesday became the first U.S. president to be impeached twice.
The House voted 232 to 197 to impeach President Trump. Ten Republicans joined the Democrats in voting for the action.
The impeachment was extraordinarily swift by historical standards. The House skipped the usual hearings and witnesses and completed the process in a few days.
Democrats and some Republicans say President Trump incited a mob’s Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol when he spoke to them during a rally near the White House before the attack.
“America was attacked, and we must respond even when the cause of this violence resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.,” House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said on the House floor before he voted for impeachment. “Every moment that Donald Trump is in the White House, our nation, our freedom, is in danger.”
U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, commented on the impeachment in a statement Wednesday.
“I don’t take impeachment lightly, but no one is above the law,” Rep. Carbajal told the News-Press Wednesday. “Today, I joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in voting to protect our democracy and hold the President accountable for inciting a violent insurrection against the U.S. government.
“The President instigated a violent coup attempt rather than accept the results of the 2020 election. This attack on our democracy left five dead and even more injured,” Rep. Carbajal continued. “Today the House made clear that intimidation tactics will never stop Congress from doing our constitutional duty.”
After the impeachment, a White House video was released of President Trump condemning the violence, but the short Oval Office speech didn’t mention the impeachment.
“I want to make it very clear: I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week,” Mr. Trump said in the video, which appeared on the White House’s YouTube channel. “No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence.”
Most Republicans opposed the impeachment. They noted the fast process denied the president due process and would only further tear apart a divided nation.
Andy Caldwell, the Republican candidate who lost to Rep. Carbajal in the Nov. 3 election, said he opposed the impeachment but noted President Trump could have exercised more caution with his words.
“I think leaders have to be extremely careful with their messaging,” the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business executive director told the News-Press Wednesday. “I believe Trump could have been more careful in his messaging when he asked people to come to D.C.”
But Mr. Caldwell, who’s a News-Press columnist, added he doesn’t believe President Trump intended for violence to break out or imagined it would have.
“Having said that, my big problem here is when our country is clearly divided, it is incumbent upon our leaders to stop throwing fuel onto the fire,” Mr. Caldwell said. “With an impeachment this late with only days left in his term, there are only two purposes: One to shame him; secondly to prevent him from running again.
“Nothing else is accomplished,” Mr. Caldwell said. “Those people who were upset by the election results and appearance of fraud are further aggrieved.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-highest ranking Republican in the House, was among the 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment. She is now facing calls from GOP members to step down from leadership because of that stance.
Another Republican, U.S. Rep. John Katko of New York, explained his reason for voting for the impeachment.
“To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” the former federal prosecutor said in a statement. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action.”
The article of the impeachment is going to the Senate, where a vote of 67 senators will be required for conviction. That means the 48 Democrats and two independents caucusing with them would need the support of 17 Republicans.
So far, at least four Republican senators have said they were either undecided or considering supporting the impeachment article. They are U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
If a conviction occurred, the Senate would need a simple majority to decide to only remove President Trump from office or to additionally bar him from holding office again.
He has talked about running in 2024.
A Senate trial could happen before or after President Trump leaves office, but Sen. McConnell said he won’t call the Senate back before its Jan. 19 session. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be inaugurated at noon Jan. 20.
President Trump was first impeached by the Democratic-controlled House in December 2019 after his phone call pressuring the president of Ukraine to investigate President-elect Joe Biden. He was acquitted in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Earlier this week, the House tried to persuade Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office. But Mr. Pence declined, accusing House Democrats of playing “political games at a time so serious in the life of our nation.”