Donald Trump impeached a second time

He's the first US president to be impeached twice. The charge is incitement of insurrection.

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Corinne Reichert
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3 min read
US President Donald Trump

A mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on Jan. 6, seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

Update, Feb. 9: Trump's second impeachment trial is happening in the Senate now. Here's how to watch the hearing live

President Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, making him the first US president to be impeached twice. This follows last week's deadly riot at the US Capitol, which was stormed by a pro-Trump mob seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The charge in the single article of impeachment is incitement of insurrection

The process next moves to the Senate for a trial. But Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has indicated that he won't agree to bring the Senate back into session before Jan. 19, according to The New York Times. That's one day before the inauguration of Joe Biden on Jan. 20. It's unclear whether Trump could be tried after his term ends. Some legal experts say noOthers say yes.

Soon-to-be-Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat from New York, said a trial will be held regardless of whether Trump has left office. "Make no mistake, there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate," Schumer said, according to various media outlets. In a note to GOP colleagues Wednesday afternoon, McConnell said he'd consider a vote to convict. "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," McConnell said, according to a number of news outlets.

Read more: The impeachment process against Trump -- here's where it stands

A total of 217 votes in the House (or a simple majority plus one) is required to impeach a sitting president, with the Democratic-majority House obtaining 232 votes -- including 10 Republicans -- on Wednesday afternoon. In the Senate, where, typically, the chief justice of the Supreme Court would preside over the trial, two-thirds of the 100 senators must vote to convict. After a conviction, the Senate could also vote to permanently bar Trump from holding public office; that vote would require only a simple majority of 51.

"If the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again," Schumer said.

House Democrats on Monday formally introduced the article of impeachment, which had 218 co-sponsors as of Jan. 12.

Trump responded to the threat of impeachment on Tuesday. "It's ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous," he said. "For [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it's causing tremendous danger to our country and it's causing tremendous anger."

By Tuesday evening, multiple Republican members of Congress had said they would vote to impeach. While 10 Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump, 197 Republicans voted no on Wednesday. 

Read more: 14th Amendment: What it is and what it has to do with Trump

Prior to the impeachment, some members of Congress had also been pushing to invoke the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution to remove Trump from office. Section 4 of the amendment provides power to the vice president plus a majority of sitting Cabinet secretaries to determine that a sitting president is unfit for office. The determination is made when a president is deemed "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."

Congress on Tuesday night voted to formally ask Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from power. The resolution gave Pence 24 hours to respond before the House began the impeachment process. Pence, however, had already indicated he wouldn't invoke the amendment, saying in a letter to Pelosi that he didn't think it would be "In the best interest of our Nation."

Trump was previously impeached in December 2019, but the Republican-majority Senate acquitted him at the beginning of 2020, with the process marked by a record number of tweets from Trump. 

In Trump's first impeachment, two charges were made against him: abusing power and obstructing Congress. The issue was Trump's dealings with Ukraine, including a July 2019 phone call in which he appeared to be using US military aid as a bargaining chip to pressure Ukraine into investigating alleged ties between his political opponent Biden, Biden's son Hunter and a Ukrainian gas company. The articles also charged Trump with interfering with a House inquiry into the Ukraine matter.

Read more: Can Trump pardon himself?