The House of Representatives delivered the harsh judgment inside the US Capitol where thousands of Trump partisans had wreaked bloody havoc a week ago, threatening lawmakers and attacking police. The Capitol has since been fortified with thousands of security forces on guard inside and a non-scalable, 7-foot fence outside.
The House voted 232 to 197 to indict Trump, with 10 Republicans breaking ranks and joining majority Democrats to deliver the indictment. The ‘Terrific 10’ — or the ‘Terrible 10, depending on lawmakers’ point of view — made it the most bipartisan vote on impeachment in US history.
But what happens next is unclear. With just a week before the curtain finally comes down on Trump, the current Senate has no time to hold a ‘trial’ to convict or acquit him. It would be up to the new Senate where Democrats have a razor-thin majority of one to proceed. A two-third majority is required to convict — meaning 17 Republicans must join Democrats, which, at this time, seems an unlikely proposition.
TV pundits wondered aloud whether an impeachment trial of a president already rejected by voters and disgraced in the public eye is the kind of opening shot incoming president Joe Biden would want. Legal opinion was divided on whether it was even possible to convict a ‘former’ president. While other high officials have been convicted after they left office, no president in history has.
The Republican defectors included Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the third ranking Republican in the House. In a blistering denunciation of Trump, Cheney said, ‘There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.’
It’s too early to declare a ‘split’ in the Republican Party, because a majority of House Republicans, including their leader Kevin MCarthy, stood by Trump, arguing the impeachment would only fan the flames of division and anger. Many indulged in a fair degree of ‘what about-ism’ by raising questions about widespread protests against racism last summer that turned violent.
But as a senior Congressional aide, a Democrat, told ET, ‘You can’t just rile up an insurrection, and say, “Hey, out of unity, let’s not impeach him.” That’s hostage-taking and we can’t have unity without accountability. Trump not only debased American politics on his way out, he shined a light on the lack of leadership in the Republican Party.’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barreled through the impeachment process at lightning speed, eschewing various procedural formalities to introduce a resolution, schedule a debate and a vote in the span of three days. She said Trump was a ‘clear and present danger to the nation we all love’.