The House of Representatives moved on Wednesday toward a vote to make President Trump the first U.S. president to be impeached twice by the House. But the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, rejected Democratic calls to reconvene the Senate for an immediate trial, all but ensuring Trump will not be removed before his term ends next week.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed on Twitter that McConnell has informed the Senate’s lead Democrat, Chuck Schumer, that he is not bringing the chamber into emergency session to consider removing Trump from office. Reuters had earlier reported that Republican Senate leadership was discussing whether to initiate a trial as early as Friday, ahead of Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
The House debated a single article of impeachment formally charging Trump with inciting insurrection based on the events of January 6 when both chambers of Congress met to count the electoral votes.
Republican congressman Jim Jordan, a prominent Trump ally who helped bring to light the FBI spying operation (Crossfire Hurricane) against the President and led his party’s opposition to the first impeachment in 2019, accused Democrats of pursuing an impeachment drive that he said began soon after Trump’s inauguration in 2016.
“Why? Politics and the fact that they want to cancel the president,” Jordan said on the House floor.
Other Republicans made speeches urging the House not to impeach Trump in the interest in promoting national healing, with some accusing Democrats of recklessness.
“Instead of moving forward as a unifying force, the majority in the House is choosing to divide us further,” stated Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole, one of 139 House Republicans who voted against certifying the election results due to lingering questions on the integrity of some States’ voting systems and procedures.
In a fit of rage on the House floor Nancy Pelosi claimed, “We know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country,” She demanded, “He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
Pelosi said Trump engaged in a “war on democracy,” and that the “insurrectionists” and “domestic terrorists” who stormed the Capitol were “sent here by the president.”
No U.S. president ever has been removed from office through impeachment. Three – Trump in 2019, Bill Clinton in 1998 and Andrew Johnson in 1868 – previously have been impeached by the House but the Senate voted against it.
Under the U.S. Constitution, impeachment in the House triggers a trial in the Senate. McConnell has said no trial could begin until the Senate was scheduled to be back in regular session on Jan. 19, only a day before Biden is due to be sworn in.
A two-thirds majority of the Republican-led Senate would be needed to convict, requiring at least 17 Republicans from the 100-member chamber to find him guilty.