Trump denounces violence after second House impeachment
New York: After the US House of Representatives made history impeaching him for a second time, outgoing President Donald Trump has finally denounced unequivocally the January 6 Capitol violence by his supporters as he faces a Senate trial and legal action when he leaves office in six days.
The House on Wednesday charged him with “incitement to insurrection” in connection with the attack on the Capitol and said in its impeachment that he “will remain a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office”.
The impeachment was approved by 232 votes — 10 Republicans joining the entire Democratic contingent of 222 — with 197 Republicans voting against it and four not voting. Trump was impeached for the first time in 2019, charged with abuse of power, but acquitted in the Senate trial in 2020. He is the only American President to be impeached twice.
The impeachment followed Vice-President Mike Pence ignoring a resolution passed by the House on Tuesday night demanding that he assume the presidency by invoking Article 25 of the Constitution that would allow him and a majority of the Cabinet to declare Trump unfit to continue as President.
Around the time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed the articles of impeachment, Trump released a video in which he said, “I want to be very clear. I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week”. Banned from social media, his video was posted on a White House Twitter account.
In a break from his MAGA ‘Make America Great Again’ followers, he said: “Those who engaged in the attacks last week will be brought to justice. No true supporter of mine could ever threaten or harass their fellow Americans.”
Although the word impeachment has a forbidding tone, it is only the framing of a chargesheet for a judicial-style trial by the Senate with Senators taking the place of a jury. Two-thirds of the 100-member body that will be evenly divided between the two parties will have to vote to convict him, which means 17 Republicans will have to cross the party divide.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who has control of the chamber till January 19, has refused to reconvene it till that day, a day before Trump’s term ends.
It will not be possible to hold a trial on single day and it will be the responsibility of Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who will be the president of the Senate, and Chuck Schumer, the Democratic party leader, to try Trump, who will be out of office.
Biden, who needs to get his key Cabinet members and other officials confirmed, said: “I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.”
Recognising the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach, the President-elect said: “It was a bipartisan vote cast by members who followed the Constitution and their conscience.”
Besides the symbolic value of the impeachment and trial, if Trump is convicted, Democrats hope he could be barred from running for office in the future.
“He must go,” declared Pelosi, who has been a long target of personal attacks and taunts by Trump and found vindication in the impeachment, during the debate on impeachment. Making her case, Pelosi quoted the Bible, and late Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy.
She called Trump “a clear and present danger to the nation” responsible for “the day of fire” when his supporters stormed the Capitol while it was in the process of ratifying the election of Biden as President and Harris as Vice-President.
On January 6, the protesters breached the Senate doors and occupied her office, leaving five people, one of them a police officer, dead.