Trump becomes first US president to be impeached twice

The United States House of Representatives has for the second time in four years, impeached President Donald Trump.

The President was impeached for "incitement of insurrection" at last week's Capitol riot.

Vice President Mike Pence had earlier rejected request to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had called on Pence to secure the majority of the Cabinet and vote to declare Trump unfit to serve. 

She said that if Pence rejects use of the 25th Amendment, the House will move to impeach him.

In a letter sent to Pelosi late Tuesday evening, Pence says he believes invoking the 25th Amendment is not "in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution" and said the mechanism should not be used "as a means of punishment or usurpation." 

He added the action should be reserved for cases of medical or mental incapacitation.

Pence also accused Pelosi of playing “political games” by trying to oust Trump.

On Wednesday, ten Republicans sided with Democrats to impeach the president by 232-197 votes in the house.

Trump is the first president in US history to be impeached twice, or charged with crimes by Congress.

Trump, a Republican, will now face a trial in the Senate, where if convicted he could face being barred from ever holding office again.

But he will not have to quit the White House before his term ends in one week because the Senate will not reconvene in time.

Trump leaves office on 20 January, following his election defeat last November to Democrat Joe Biden.

The Democratic-controlled House voted on Wednesday after several hours of debate as armed National Guard troops stood guard inside and outside the Capitol.

Impeachment charges are political, not criminal. The president was accused by Congress of inciting the storming of the Capitol with his 6 January speech to a rally outside the White House.

He had urged his supporters to "peacefully and patriotically" make their voices heard, but also to "fight like hell" against an election that he told them had been stolen.

Following Trump's remarks, his supporters broke into the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to suspend certification of Biden's election victory.

The building was placed on lockdown and five people died.

The article of impeachment stated that Trump "repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the presidential election results were fraudulent and should not be accepted".

It says he then repeated these claims and "willfully made statements to the crowd that encouraged and foreseeably resulted in lawless action at the Capitol", leading to the violence and loss of life.

"President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government, threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said on the House floor: "The president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country.

"He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love."

Democratic congressman Julian Castro called Trump "the most dangerous man to ever occupy the Oval Office".

Most Republicans did not seek to defend MTrump's rhetoric, instead arguing that the impeachment had bypassed the customary hearings and calling on Democrats to drop it for the sake of national unity.

"Impeaching the president in such a short time frame would be a mistake," said Kevin McCarthy, the House's top Republican.

"That doesn't mean the president's free from fault. The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters."

Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, accused Democrats of recklessly dividing the country to pursue a political vendetta.

"This is about getting the president of the United States," said Jordan. "It's always been about getting the president, no matter what. It's an obsession."

Among members of the president's party who voted to impeach him was the third-ranking House Republican Liz Cheney.

The Wyoming representative, who is the daughter of former Vice-President Dick Cheney, said of the Capitol riot that "there has never been a greater betrayal by a president".

The impeachment article will head to the Senate, which will hold a trial to determine the president's guilt.

A two-thirds majority is needed to convict Trump, meaning at least 17 Republicans would have to vote with Democrats in the evenly split, 100-seat upper chamber.

As many as 20 Senate Republicans are open to convicting the president, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

If Trump is convicted by the Senate, lawmakers could hold another vote to block him from running for elected office again - which he has indicated he planned to do in 2024.

But the trial will not come during Trump's remaining week in office.

In a video released after the vote in Congress, Trump called on his followers to remain peaceful but he did not refer to the fact that he had been impeached. 

"Violence and vandalism have no place in our country... No true supporter of mine would ever endorse political violence," he said.

No US president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. 

Trump was impeached by the House in 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congres. But he was later acquitted by the Senate. 

Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson were also impeached by the House in 1998 and in 1868, respectively. But were acquitted by the Senate. 

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