House Delivers Second Trump Impeachment To Senate
Marching through hallways of the Capitol where Donald Trump supporters rampaged just 19 days before, nine members of the House formally delivered their new article of impeachment to the Senate Monday evening, accusing the former president of inciting that insurrectionist mob.
Trump is the first president ever impeached twice, and would be the first to be barred from office if two-thirds of the Senate agrees that his repeated and baseless claims of election fraud inspired the mayhem and assault on the Capitol Jan. 6 that left five people dead, a police officer among, with dozens more injured.
"President Trump greatly endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a co-equal branch of government," House lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin said, reading the full article to the Senate, where 31 Democrats and just three Republicans were on hand to hear them.
"Wherefore Donald John Trump by such conduct has demonstrated that he will remain
a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law, Donald John Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States," Raskin concluded.
The mob stormed the Capitol directly after listening to Trump and Trump loyalists spur them on from a "Save America Rally" on the Ellipse near the White House in which the then-president and others repeatedly offered violent imagery.
"We fight like hell, and if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore," Trump told the crowd that chanted "Fight for Trump" repeatedly -- as it also did inside the Capitol later.
“You’ll never take back our country with weakness," Trump said. "You have to show strength. You have to be strong.”
“You don’t concede when there’s theft involved,” he said. “Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about.”
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) had kicked off the violent rhetoric earlier, telling the crowd, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!”
“Let’s have trial by combat,” Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, exhorted them.
Trump ended his speech by telling the angry thousands to march on the Hill.
"We're going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue," he said, "and we're going to give our Republicans -- the weak ones because the strong ones don't need any of our help -- we're to try and get them kind of pride and boldness they need to take back our country."
The article of impeachment cites some of those quotes, as well as Trump's attempts to strong arm the Georgia Secretary of State into manufacturing votes for Trump.
Democrats think it's an obvious case, and 10 Republicans in the House agreed with them.
Whether Republican senators will go along remains to be seen. Seventeen of them would have to vote for a conviction to reach the two-thirds threshold.
Although Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has suggested Trump may have committed impeachable offenses, he hasn't said if he agrees with the article the House passed, and many other members of his caucus have suggested the entire exercise is out of bounds.
Many claim the process in unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office and because Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is not expected to preside.
"I think it's a sham impeachment. If the chief justice isn't coming over, it's just a partisan farce," said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
"I still have concerns about the constitutionality of this, and then the precedent it sets in trying to convict a private citizen. So, in the future, can this be used against President Obama?" said Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, blaming the rioters themselves for the Capitol assault, not Trump's false claims and incitement of the crowd.
"He exhibited poor leadership -- I think we all agree with that," Ernst said. "But it was these people that came into the Capitol. They did it knowingly, so they bear the responsibility."
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), one of the handful of Republicans who formally objected to the election results in the Senate and has been accused of helping to incite the mob, admitted Trump's words were dangerous, but said he did not believe the Senate should hold him to account.
"I think the ex-president's rhetoric on the day was inflammatory. I think it was irresponsible. I think it was wrong," Hawley told reporters shortly before the article arrived. "But I think that this impeachment effort is ... blatantly unconstitutional. It's a really, really, really dangerous precedent. Because if you can do this, then you can just do anything.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) countered such arguments earlier, saying in a Senate floor speech that they make no sense when the Constitution mandates meting out punishment through a Senate trial.
"There seems to be a desire on the political right to avoid passing judgment one way or the other on former President Trump and his role in fomenting the despicable attack on the Capitol," Schumer said. "There seems to be some hope that Republicans could oppose the former president's impeachment on process grounds, rather than grappling with his actual awful conduct."
"This is not going to fly. The trial is going to happen," Schumer said.
He pointed to the historic 1876 impeachment of War Secretary William Belknap, who tried to dodge a Senate trial by resigning. The Senate tried him anyway. Schumer also argued that the Senate has a role because a guilty verdict could be followed by a separate vote barring Trump from ever holding federal office again.
"It is certainly and clearly constitutional, and if the former president is convicted, there will be a vote to disqualify him from future office," Schumer said. "There is only one question at stake -- only one question -- that senators of both parties will have to answer before God in their own conscience: Is former President Trump guilty of inciting an insurrection against the United States?"
Exactly how the trial will proceed is not yet decided. Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), the president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over the proceedings instead of Roberts.
But beyond that, little is set. Schumer told reporters earlier Monday that both sides were still working out whether witnesses would be called and other details.
The timeline for Trump's second impeachment trial is as follows:
Tuesday, Jan. 26: Senators are sworn-in and a summons is issued for Trump
Tuesday, Feb. 2: Trump's answer and the House's pre-trial briefs are due
Monday, Feb. 8: Trump's pre-trial brief is due
Tuesday, Feb. 9: House’s pre-trial rebuttal brief is due and the trial can start