It’s Impeachment Day—again.
Donald Trump is just moments away from becoming the first president in American history to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives, a humiliation that will brand him for eternity.
In that sense, he’s about to outdo even disgraced former President Richard Nixon, who resigned before the House could impeach him just once. He’ll lap former Presidents Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, who each managed the dubious feat one time.
The House is preparing to slap Trump with a single article of impeachment for inciting insurrection, after Trump urged on a mob that laid siege to the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, a scene of chaotic destruction that resulted in five deaths.
Representatives are expected to convene at 9 a.m. and then debate for roughly three or four hours. Then the House may pass the motion around midday or early afternoon.
Unlike Trump’s first impeachment last year, which played out over a period of months with endless testimony, this one is moving at lightning speed. And, more importantly, this time key Republicans support it.
With history in the balance, here’s what you need to know.
Key Republicans of both the House and Senate are gearing up to vote against Trump, in a stark contrast from last year’s overwhelming partisan divide.
That has a lot to do with the fact that, this time, plenty of Republicans are outraged by the scenes of shocking violence that played out inside the building where they work.
On Tuesday evening, the third-ranking House Republican, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, announced she’ll vote to impeach. She was soon joined by New York Republican Rep. John Katko and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger. Perhaps more than a dozen other House Republicans may ultimately fall in line and vote against Trump.
“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Cheney said in a statement.
“Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Even the wily Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was reported on Tuesday night to be “pleased” that Democrats are moving to impeach Trump—on the grounds that impeachment may make it easier to sweep Trump out of the Republican Party.
Once the measure passes, the Senate will hold a trial that, theoretically, is supposed to determine whether Trump actually gets kicked out of office. But it remains unclear whether the Senate will manage to begin the impeachment trial before Trump’s term ends on Jan. 20.
McConnell has circulated a memo saying he doesn’t think they’ll be able to start until after Jan. 20. Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, urged McConnell on Tuesday to invoke emergency powers to call the Senate back sooner.
The result of the Senate trial could still prove significant, though, even if Trump has already stepped down. If he’s convicted in the Senate, the body can tack on a measure to bar him from political office in the United States of America forever.
On Tuesday night, Vice President Mike Pence rejected Democrats’ demands that he invoke the 25th Amendment, which would effectively allow Pence and a majority of the Cabinet to vote to strip Trump of his presidential powers and let Pence serve as acting president.
The article of impeachment that will be considered Wednesday takes direct aim at Trump’s role in whipping up the crowd at a rally on the National Mall before the January 6 riot, and points out that the Constitution bars anyone engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. from holding political office.
The text of the resolution quotes Trump telling the angry mob, moments before violence erupted: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Trump was impeached for the first time by the House of Representatives in December 2019 for attempting to pressure the Ukrainian president to announce an investigation of Biden’s family, in what Democrats alleged was clearly an attempt to swing the 2020 election in his favor.
The subsequent attempt to remove Trump from office failed in the Senate, after almost all Republicans in the chamber voted to clear him of the charge. This time, however, some Republican senators seem downright pissed at Trump.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said on Sunday that Trump should resign and possibly face “criminal liability” for his actions. Alaska’s Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski told the Alaska Daily News flatly: “I want him out.”