On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection.” Some Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump. On Tuesday, the House voted to urge Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, about an hour after Pence had sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), saying he would not do so.
The house voted 231 to 197 to impeach the president, with 10 Republicans joining the 221 Democrats. One hundred and ninety-seven Republicans voted against impeachment, while not a single Democrat did so. Five votes remain to be cast and this article will be updated with a final tally.
The 4-page impeachment resolution Democrats unveiled on Monday includes only one claim against the president, but it is damning. However, proving Trump guilty of “incitement of insurrection” in regards to the Capitol riots last Wednesday is an extremely high bar.
If the House of Representatives votes to impeach Trump, the Senate would almost certainly not remove Trump before January 20. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will not reconvene the Senate until January 19, effectively dooming impeachment while Trump is in office.
Impeaching Trump for allegedly inciting the Capitol riots would set a terrible precedent. The president never told his supporters to break into the Capitol or engage in violence. Urging people to “fight like hell” in a political speech is hardly insurrectionary. This impeachment would set a precedent that Congress could impeach a president if the majority party interprets aggressive rhetoric as incitement to violence.
It would also raise questions about Democrats’ aggressive rhetoric. Pelosi herself called for “uprisings” against the Trump administration. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) claimed that allegedly marginalized groups have “no choice but to riot.” Incoming Vice President Kamala Harris said the destructive and deadly Black Lives Matter riots of this past summer “should not” stop.
Trump’s efforts to block the certification of the Electoral College votes went beyond the pale. He even argued that Pence should unilaterally reject electoral votes from contested states — even though the vice president’s role in counting such votes is purely ceremonial. (Do Republicans really want to give Kamala Harris unilateral power to reject 2024 electoral votes on the same principle?)
Since President Trump will leave office on January 20 and the Senate will not reconvene until January 19, it seems the Senate will not vote to remove Trump until Joe Biden has become president. Democrats seem intent on impeaching Trump in order to prevent him from running for office again, which would require a two-thirds Senate vote to convict him and a majority vote in the Senate to bar him from future office. That seems unlikely.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.