A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Trump impeached by House, 232-197; McConnell says Senate trial can’t be set before inauguration


Staff report

Ten Republicans in the U.S. House sided with Democrats to impeach President Donald Trump 232-197 for inciting the storming of the Capitol on January 6.

The violent breach of the Capitol resulted in terrorism of its occupants, terrific damage to the historical building, and the death of five people, including Capitol police who were defending against the invasion.

Mitch McConnell

The rioting crowd suspended certification of the November election results presented by the Electoral College and ultimately named Joseph Biden the next president.

The only member of the Kentucky delegation to the U.S. House to vote for impeachment was John Yarmuth, long-time Democrat representative from Louisville.

Representative Andy Barr, a Republican from Lexington, issued a statement following the vote:

“The President’s rhetoric on January 6th prior to the violence and mayhem at the U.S. Capitol building was regrettable and irresponsible. It was inappropriate for the President to discourage the Vice President from discharging his duties under the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act, neither of which give the Vice President, while acting as President of the Senate, unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.

“Moreover, the President failed to appreciate the gravity of the crisis as it unfolded and should have taken more decisive and forceful action to intervene and help diffuse the situation.”

Barr voted against the impeachment, he stated, because he didn’t think the President’s words met the “legal definition of incitement” and said “it’s time to lower the temperature.”

The articles of impeachment now go to the U.S. Senate where the now-majority leader, Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, has indicated he is open to considering the impeachment.

On Wednesday afternoon he issued a statement that “while the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate.”
 
A two-thirds majority is needed to convict Trump, which means at least 17 Republicans would have to vote with Democrats who would all have to vote in favor. The two new Democrat Senators from Georgia will be among the voters, as they will be sworn in today.

McConnell has signaled that the Senate may not meet until after Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on January 20, at which time McConnell also will no longer be majority leader.

McConnell issued the following statement:

“The House of Representatives has voted to impeach the President. The Senate process will now begin at our first regular meeting following receipt of the article from the House.

The Capitol

“Given the rules, procedures, and Senate precedents that govern presidential impeachment trials, there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week. The Senate has held three presidential impeachment trials. They have lasted 83 days, 37 days, and 21 days respectively.
 
“Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office. This is not a decision I am making; it is a fact. The President-elect himself stated last week that his inauguration on January 20 is the ‘quickest’ path for any change in the occupant of the presidency.
 
“In light of this reality, I believe it will best serve our nation if Congress and the executive branch spend the next seven days completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden Administration. I am grateful to the offices and institutions within the Capitol that are working around the clock, alongside federal and local law enforcement, to prepare for a safe and successful inauguration at the Capitol next Wednesday.”

It is possible to convict Trump on the impeachment articles even though he will not be in office as of January 20.

If he is convicted by the Senate, lawmakers could hold another vote to block him from holding elected office again.

In the meantime, nearly 20,000 National Guard troops are in Washington, D.C., to help protect the city and assured a safe swearing-in for Biden on January 20.


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