The United States House of Representatives was tense on Wednesday, 13 January, with tempers flaring as the impeachment vote debate saw temperatures rise on both sides. In an impeachment showdown, strong words were thrown down by both sides. But ultimately, the Democrats won, their margin bolstered by 10 Republicans who plainly had enough of Donald Trump.
Ten Republicans joined the Democrats as an angry House impeached US President Donald Trump at 4:25 Eastern Standard Time (EST) yesterday in the US.
Bemused representatives and capitol staffers arrived at work to find hundreds of National Guard troops filling the Capitol Buildings, some still asleep in the halls – they had arrived Tuesday night as part of inauguration security measures.
The strengthened security measures at the state Capitol no doubt will be echoed across the country as all 50 states are forced to beef up security in expectation of more pro-Trump violent uprisings ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on 20 January, next Wednesday.
This is the first time in US history that a president has been impeached twice. If Trump had not been assured of an ignominious spot in the history books after the terrifying riot at the national Capitol exactly a week ago on Wednesday, January 6, his place is now forever on the wall of shame.
After a speech by Trump, the mob rampaged through the Capitol complex last Wednesday, leaving five people dead in their wake, including a Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknik, who had been dragged into the mob and beaten so severely he later died of his injuries. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi the day after the riots said: “He will have to resign or we will impeach him.”
Speaking at the Capitol, amid growing calls for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment – which allows for the Vice President and a Cabinet majority to declare a president unfit for office – and remove Trump from office, Pelosi said that “The president of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America… Any day can be a horror show for America.”
During impeachment proceedings at the House on Wednesday, the Speaker said Trump was a “clear and present danger to the nation.”
The final vote was 232 in favour, with 197 against, with four representatives not voting. The matter now moves to the Senate, where it will be decided if Trump should be convicted and removed from office.
(In short, “the Senate sits as a High Court of Impeachment in which senators consider evidence, hear witnesses and vote to acquit or convict the impeached official”. See the rules on impeachment here.)
While surprise has been expressed from some quarters that 10 Republicans voted to impeach, some senior US political pundits suggest those Republicans are not supporting impeachment because he incited an insurrection, but because the insurrection failed.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 13, 2021
The vote itself was the most bi-partisan impeachment vote in US history, even more than the vote against President Andrew Johnson in 1868.
Trump himself, in the middle of the impeachment proceedings, sent out a statement via the White House in which he said “I urge there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind… I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers.”
By then, his fate was already sealed. DM
An Wentzel is Night Editor and specialist reporter for Daily Maverick based in the United States.