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Trump impeached for ‘inciting’ US Capitol riot

media captionWatch the moment President Trump was impeached for second time

The US House of Representatives has impeached President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection” at last week’s Capitol riot.

Ten Republicans sided with Democrats to impeach the president by 232-197.

He is the first president in US history to be impeached twice, or charged with crimes by Congress.

Mr Trump, a Republican, will now face a trial in the Senate, where if convicted he could face being barred from ever holding office again.

But Mr Trump will not have to quit the White House before his term in office ends in one week because the Senate will not reconvene in time.

Mr Trump will leave office on 20 January, following his election defeat last November to Democrat Joe Biden.

The Democratic-controlled House voted after several hours of impassioned debate on Wednesday.

  • Live updates on Trump impeachment

  • What happens to impeached presidents?
media captionThe storming of the US Capitol

What was Trump charged with?

Impeachment charges are political, not criminal. The president was accused by Congress of inciting the storming of the Capitol with his 6 January speech to a rally outside the White House.

He urged his supporters to “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard, but also to “fight like hell” against an election that he falsely told them had been stolen.

Following Mr Trump’s remarks, his supporters broke into the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to suspend certification of election results and take shelter. The building was placed on lockdown and five people died.

The article of impeachment stated that Mr Trump “repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the presidential election results were fraudulent and should not be accepted”.

It says he then repeated these claims and “willfully made statements to the crowd that encouraged and foreseeably resulted in lawless action at the Capitol”, leading to the violence and loss of life.

“President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government, threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government.”

Last week, 139 Republicans voted against accepting the result of the 2020 election and Mr Trump’s defeat.

What did lawmakers say during the debate?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said on the House floor: “The president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country.

“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

Most Republicans did not seek to defend Mr Trump’s rhetoric, instead arguing that the impeachment had bypassed the customary hearings and calling on Democrats to drop it for the sake of national unity.

“Impeaching the president in such a short time frame would be a mistake,” said Kevin McCarthy, the House’s top Republican.

“That doesn’t mean the president’s free from fault. The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.”

Trump makes history once again

Donald Trump has made history once again, this time as the first president to be impeached twice.

A year ago, the move was opposed in lockstep by the Republican Party. This time, a handful of conservatives backed the move. It is a reflection not only of the gravity of the moment, but also the president’s declining influence in the final days of his administration.

Impeachment sets up a Senate trial for Mr Trump that now appears destined to stretch into the early days of Joe Biden’s presidency, creating yet another challenge for the incoming president. It also will stoke an ongoing debate among Republicans over the direction their party takes in the days ahead.

The party is on a path that splits in two very different directions.

On one side is continued allegiance to the president’s brand of politics – one that created a new coalition of voters that delivered the White House and Congress in 2016, but lost both in 2020.

On the other is an uncertain future – but one free from the president’s unique style of heat and rhetoric – unfiltered invective that even many Republicans now believe contributed to last week’s Capitol riot.

What happens next?

The impeachment article will head to the Senate, which will hold a trial to determine the president’s guilt.

A two-thirds majority is needed to convict Mr Trump, meaning at least 17 Republicans would have to vote with Democrats in the evenly split, 100-seat upper chamber.

As many as 20 Senate Republicans are open to convicting the president, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

If Mr Trump is convicted by the Senate, lawmakers could hold another vote to block him from running for elected office again – which he has indicated he planned to do in 2024.

But the trial will not come during Mr Trump’s remaining week in office.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement: “Given the rules, procedures, and Senate precedents that govern presidential impeachment trials, there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week.”

He said it would best serve the interests of the nation if Congress focused on a safe and orderly transition of power for the incoming Biden administration.

Impeachment: The basics

  • What is impeachment? Impeachment is when a sitting president is charged with crimes. In this case, President Trump is accused of inciting insurrection by encouraging his supporters to storm the Capitol
  • Could Trump be removed from office? A simple majority of the House of Representatives is enough to impeach him – but to remove him from office, he then needs to be convicted of those charges by the Senate, where a two-thirds majority required for conviction is not guaranteed
  • So what does it mean? This is the second time Mr Trump will have been impeached, and even though a trial could begin after his term ends, a conviction could mean he is barred from holding public office again

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