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 presdiency 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 impachment.

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.

Supporting the impeachment Democrat Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi recalled his parent’s immigration when he was an infant from India to an America that as a democracy is “the beacon of hope for all the world”.

He said: “When Donald Trump told rioters to go to the capitol and, quote-unquote, fight like hell, he incited an attack on the Capitol and the ideals comprising the American dream. I’m voting for impeachment because I know we’re still the country my parents believed in, and I will fight like hell for it.”

The Republican dissent was led by Liz Cheney, the daughter of Dick Cheney, who was George W. Bush’s vice president.

Trump had disparaged her and her father.

The Republicans did not allocate time for her to speak during the impeachment debate and a Democrat had her statement introduced into the House record.

“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” her statement said, adding: “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Democrat after Democrat took the House floor to denounce Trump, their nemesis of four years and more, calling him a “tyrant”, a “white supremacist”, “insurrectionist-in-chief” and other epithets.

While all the Republicans condemned the attack on the Capitol and put a distance between them and the rioters, they opposed the impeachment on the grounds that it was rushed and did not follow procedures as the Democrats tried to ram it through in a single day.

Republican Jim Jordan accused the Democrats of having double standards in questioning the legality of Trump’s 2016 election but accusing the Republicans of trying to overturn the election when they raised questions about the 2020 election.

One Republican said that hate speech and threats were emanating from the opponents of Trump also and mentioned former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai being called a “dirty Indian” and his family threatened with violence.

Pat Fallon said that when burning and looting were carried out during the anti-police demonstrations following the extra-judicial killing of an AfricaN-American man, there was no condemnation from the Democrat who encouraged the protests.

Guy Lorin Reschenthaler said that the impeachment “will further divide the already fractured nation”.

Steve Scalise, who had been shot in 2017 by a Democratic Party supporter who tried to attack a group of about 30 Republican members of Congress, said: “I’ve seen the evil of political violence firsthand and it needs to stop.

“But all of us need to be unequivocal calling it out when we see it, not just when it comes from the other side of the aisle.”

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