The US House of Representatives has impeached President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection” at last week’s Capitol riot.
He is the first president in US history to be twice impeached – to be charged with crimes by Congress.
Mr Trump, a Republican, will now face a trial in the Senate, where if convicted he could face being barred from ever holding office again.
The impeachment measure passed largely along party lines.
Mr Trump is due to leave office on 20 January, following his election defeat last November to Democrat Joe Biden.
After several hours of impassioned debate on Wednesday, the Democratic-controlled House voted.
Six Republicans said beforehand they would side with Democrats to impeach the president. But the majority of conservatives remained loyal to Mr Trump.
But it is unlikely Mr Trump will have to leave the White House before his term in office ends in one week as the Senate was not expected to convene in time.
Last week, 139 Republicans voted against accepting the result of the 2020 election and Mr Trump’s defeat.
What was Trump charged with?
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.
Following Mr Trump’s remarks, his supporters broke into the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to suspend certification of election results and take shelter. The building was placed on lockdown and five people died.
The article of impeachment stated that Mr 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.”
What did lawmakers say during the debate?
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.”
Most Republicans did not seek to defend Mr Trump’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.”
Trump makes history once again
Donald Trump has made history once again, this time as the first president to be impeached twice.
A year ago, the move was opposed in lockstep by the Republican Party. This time, a handful of conservatives backed the move. It is a reflection not only of the gravity of the moment, but also the president’s declining influence in the final days of his administration.
Impeachment sets up a Senate trial for Mr Trump that now appears destined to stretch into the early days of Joe Biden’s presidency, creating yet another challenge for the incoming president. It also will stoke an ongoing debate among Republicans over the direction their party takes in the days ahead.
The party is on a path that splits in two very different directions.
On one side is continued allegiance to the president’s brand of politics – one that created a new coalition of voters that delivered the White House and Congress in 2016, but lost both in 2020.
On the other is an uncertain future – but one free from the president’s unique style of heat and rhetoric – unfiltered invective that even many Republicans now believe contributed to last week’s Capitol riot.
BBC News – World
Source – www.bbc.co.uk