Analysis: House impeaches Trump for second time, 10 Republicans break with the president

By Brian Hardzinski, Nihar Patel, Amy Ta

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) shows the article of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump after signing it in an engrossment ceremony, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 13, 2021. Photo by REUTERS/Leah Millis

Today the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump for inciting an insurrection against the federal government. Ten Republicans broke party ranks to vote in favor. This came a week after pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol building, leaving five people dead.

During debate today, New York Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries argued for impeachment: “Donald Trump is a living, breathing impeachable offense. It is what it is. The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was an act of insurrection incited by Donald Trump. He is a clear and present danger to the health, safety, and well-being of the American people. And that is why this impeachment is necessary on the House floor for a second time with a bipartisan majority.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy from Bakersfield voted against impeachment. But he blamed President Trump for last week’s riot and advocated for censure instead.

McCarthy said, “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should’ve immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump. Accept his share of responsibility. Quell the brewing unrest. And ensure President-elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term. And the president’s immediate action also deserves Congressional action. Which is why I think a fact-finding commission and a censure resolution would be prudent. Unfortunately, that is not where we are today.”

Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, who was against impeaching Trump the first time, claimed Democrats were trying to “cancel” Trump and were obsessed with ousting him for the past four years.

Jordan said today, “In seven days there will be a peaceful transfer of power just like there’s been every other time in our country. But Democrats are going to impeach President Trump again. This doesn’t unite the country. There’s no way this helps the nation deal with the tragic and terrible events of last week that we all condemn.”

Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin managed the impeachment for the Democrats, and cited the words of the top Republican to vote against the president. “Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the elected chair of the Republican Conference, wrote the president summoned this mob, assembled this mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would’ve happened without the president. The president could’ve immediately and forcibly intervened to stop the violence. He did not.”

One Republican who joined the Democrats in voting in favor was Washington state’s Jaime Herrera Beutler. She said, “I’m not afraid of losing my job, but I am afraid that my country will fail. I’m afraid patriots of this country have died in vain. I’m afraid my children won’t grow up in a free country. I’m afraid injustice will prevail. But truth — truth sets us free from fear.”

While lawmakers debated, National Guard troops camped inside the Capitol. They slept on the floor in case another attack happened. This hasn’t happened since the Civil War.

There are some clues about what will happen next. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today he would not recall the Senate for a trial before Joe Biden’s inauguration next week, meaning Trump will likely finish the seven days left in his term.

But McConnell didn’t rule out voting to convict Trump. He could bring enough Republicans with him to make Trump the first president ever convicted by the Senate.

“We saw a really unique situation unfold with really, really quick repercussions. … Congress doesn't move fast. But they moved fast here on this particular issue, I think, out of real concern about what the next week holds,” says Philip Bump, Washington Post national correspondent.

He explains the point of this impeachment was to limit Trump’s ability to use his pulpit as president to encourage people to participate in potentially violent activities.

“Whether or not he actually incited people to storm the Capitol, he was obviously instrumental in having all those people there. … That sort of concern and the fact that there are still ongoing threats was the primary motivation for Democrats to act as quickly as they did.”

Of the GOP Congress members who voted to impeach Trump, Bump says they’re not really a group of moderate Republicans.

“Liz Cheney's the third ranking member of the House caucus, and she had [a] very, very forceful statement. Some of them [members] are protected somewhat — Washington just moved to a top two primary system, and so two House Republicans from Washington voted to impeach. … This was not just simply moderate Republicans trying to win in blue districts. … This is a lot of people in really deep red districts who decided to send a message to the president about his behavior.”

Credits

Guest:
Philip Bump - Washington Post national correspondent - @pbump

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Angie Perrin, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Bennett Purser, Nihar Patel