Yesterday Donald Trump gained the unwanted distinction of being the first American president to be impeached twice. Bill Chappell reports at NPR:
The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach President Trump for “high crimes and misdemeanors” — specifically, for inciting an insurrection against the federal government at the U.S. Capitol.
Just one week before he will leave office, Trump has now become the first U.S. president to be impeached twice.
Wednesday’s vote came a week after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a chaotic scene that left five people dead.
Ten Republicans broke party ranks to vote in favor of impeachment, including Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who chairs the House Republican Conference.
To the best of my ability to determine the House has not yet conveyed that conviction to the Senate where it would be tried.
I don’t believe that President Trump’s statements meet the legal definition of inciting a riot in the federal code. But context matters and in context Mr. Trump’s remarks were reckless, inflammatory, and contributed to the breaching of the Capitol by rioters. Under the circumstances in my opinion the House was correct in impeaching him.
My present understanding of Republican politics is extremely fuzzy. I just don’t get it. The materially party line vote in the House signals that very few House Republicans thought that the president’s remarks rose to the level of impeachment. I haven’t done a review of those who voted to impeach. I can’t interpret the votes either way.
Now the questions are
- Will the House convey the article of impeachment to the Senate?
- What will happen in the Senate?
As I read the calendar the first day on which a Senate trial could begin would be Inauguration Day. That seems excessively inflammatory to me as well. Will they bother? Will they engage in a symbolic trial? Will they try and convict? Will they take some other action?
I genuinely have no idea.
Here’s Ben Shapiro’s explanation, reproduced at Politico of House Republican thinking:
Opposition to impeachment comes from a deep and abiding conservative belief that members of the opposing political tribe want their destruction, not simply to punish Trump for his behavior. Republicans believe that Democrats and the overwhelmingly liberal media see impeachment as an attempt to cudgel them collectively by lumping them in with the Capitol rioters thanks to their support for Trump.
Conservatives see the game. It doesn’t matter whether you held your nose when voting for Trump; it doesn’t matter if you denounced his prevarications about a “stolen election” (for the record, I was met with great ire when I declared the night of the election that Trump’s declaration of victory was “deeply irresponsible”).
If you supported Trump in any way, you were at least partially culpable, the argument goes. It’s not just Trump who deserves vitriol — it’s all 74 million people who voted for him.
And that claim, many conservatives believe, will serve as the basis for repression everywhere from social media to employment. Evidence to support that suspicion wasn’t in short supply this week…