After the night of chaos in Washington, the US House of Representatives voted for the President to be impeached. Now it is the Senate’s turn. Donald Trump publishes a video message shortly afterwards.
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Following the storming of the US Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump, the majority of the House of Representatives voted for the impeachment of the elected president. This is how Trump goes down in history: two impeachment proceedings have never been opened against a US president.
Trump now has to answer in the Senate for “inciting a riot”. The top Republican in the US Senate, Mitch McConnell, does not want to start the proceedings there until after Trump’s successor Joe Biden has been sworn in next week. Biden said he hoped the Senate would have enough time to approve its cabinet members and discuss important bills at the same time.
In the vote in the House of Representatives, several Republican MPs also voted to remove their party colleagues from office. The background is the storming of the US Capitol by supporters of Trump, for which the president is made personally responsible in the impeachment resolution.
Democrats want to ensure that Trump can no longer run in the future
Trump now has to face an impeachment process in the Senate that is similar to a judicial process. In the Senate, a two-thirds majority would be needed to condemn Trump in the end. To do this, at least 17 Republican senators would have to side with the Democrats. It is currently unclear whether this could happen.
Trump will automatically leave office with Biden’s swearing-in on Wednesday next week. With the impeachment process, the Democrats also want to ensure that Trump is banned from future government offices. This would mean that he would not be allowed to run for president in 2024. That is why the impeachment initiative is more than a symbolic step. Leading Democrats had also argued that it was important to set an example to condemn Trump’s actions and thus prevent possible similar misconduct by future presidents.
McConnell said that given the shortage of time, it was not possible to complete an impeachment case in the Senate before Biden was sworn in. Therefore, the country is best served by initially concentrating on an orderly handover.
Biden: Senate has other important matters to deal with
Biden said he hoped the Senate would find a way to run the impeachment process while working on other urgent matters for the country. It is important for his government to fill key positions in the cabinet quickly – for this Biden is dependent on the Senate, which has to approve these personal details. Biden also named the fight against the corona pandemic and help for the economy as topics that the Senate had to deal with when he took office.
When exactly the Senate proceedings will begin and how long it could take is unclear. Above all, the question arises as to how Trump’s Republicans will position themselves in the chamber. Individual Republicans in the Senate have already openly opposed Trump, but have not yet agreed to impeachment.
The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, said there could be a political “earthquake” in the Senate that could lead to a majority in favor of impeachment. Schiff referred to a report in the New York Times, according to which McConnell internally indicated that he considered impeachment proceedings against Trump to be justified. Citing unspecified sources from McConnell’s environment, the newspaper wrote that McConnell was glad that the proceedings had been initiated. That could make it easier for his party to break away from Trump.
Pelosi: Trump is a threat to the country
At the meeting in the House of Representatives, the Chamber’s Democratic Chair, Nancy Pelosi, described Trump as a “threat to the country”. The Republican had incited “domestic terrorists” to fight back against his election defeat.
Even the Republican minority leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, said: “The president is not without guilt.” The president was responsible for the attack on Congress by a riotous mob. But it was wrong to remove him from office in the last few days of his term of office. This would only increase the political division in the country, he warned.
Shortly after initiating impeachment proceedings, Trump turned to the nation with a call for reconciliation. “I clearly condemn the violence we saw last week,” said Trump in a five-minute video message published by the White House. “Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country.” He called on the population to relieve tension, calm down feelings and contribute to peace in the country.
Trump tried to distance himself from his supporters who stormed the Capitol. With a view to reports of possible further violent protests in the capital Washington and other parts of the country in the next few days, Trump called for a renunciation of violence. He did not mention the impeachment proceedings in the clip.
Trump will automatically leave office on January 20
Trump will automatically leave office with the swearing-in of his Democratic successor Joe Biden on January 20. In all likelihood, a decision in the impeachment process will not be made until after Trump’s term of office ends.
Trump had already endured impeachment proceedings during his tenure – as only the third president in the history of the United States. In the first trial, he had to answer in the so-called Ukraine affair for abuse of power and obstruction of congress investigations. In February 2020, however, he was ultimately acquitted of all charges – with the majority of his Republicans in the chamber. Since then, however, some party colleagues have turned away from him. The riots at the Capitol had aroused great outrage among Republican ranks.