With heavily armed members of the National Guard inside and around Congress, 10 Republicans joined 219 Democrats in a 232-197 vote impeaching Donald Trump for the second time in his single term this afternoon, making him the only president in American history to be impeached twice. The charge this time: “Incitement of insurrection.”
The vote is the result of Trump inciting a mob attack on the Capitol last week that left five people dead and injured scores, including more than 50 law enforcement officers who were overpowered as throngs of Trump supporters attempted an insurrection to stop Congress from certifying the vote of electors.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, said he would not bring the Senate back early–before Jan. 19–for a trial, but left the door open for a trial and conviction in the early days of Biden’s administration, which begins on Jan. 20.
No Republicans had joined Democrats when Trump was first impeached in December 2019 on allegations that he invited foreign interference in the 2016 election. Three Democrats had voted against impeachment at the time. No Democrats voted against today.
U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, the Republican representing Flagler County and surrounding areas, voted No. He had been among 125 Republican members of Congress and others beyond Congress baselessly calling the election of Joe Biden fraudulent. He had signed a letter supporting a lawsuit filed by Texas in December seeking to overturn the vote in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, where Trump lost to Biden.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush, among other Republicans ridiculing the suit and its supporters, called it “crazy” and tweeting: “Why are smart people advancing this notion? Let it go. The election is over.” The Supreme Court rejected the suit, part of some 60 court rulings by close to 100 judges rejecting claims of fraud or widespread irregularities, at times with ridiculing language. None of Trump’s lawyers or proxies, including Waltz, have produced evidence that would substantiate claims of a fraudulent election. Trump’s own attorney general, Bill Barr (until Dec. 23), said the Department of Justice hadn’t uncovered such evidence that would materially affect the outcome of the election.
Waltz, however, continued to support the false claims. On Dec. 11, the Orlando Sentinel, which had endorsed him, retracted the endorsement with an apology to readers: “We had no idea, had no way of knowing at the time, that Waltz was not committed to democracy,” the Sentinel’s editorial board wrote. ‘During our endorsement interview with the incumbent congressman, we didn’t think to ask, “Would you support an effort to throw out the votes of tens of millions of Americans in four states in order to overturn a presidential election and hand it to the person who lost, Donald Trump?’ Our bad.”
The movement Waltz supported and encouraged, however, culminated in last week’s “march” in Washington, organized for weeks before with clear intents to escalate into violence if necessary, as the FBI had become aware, and warned of.
“Impeachment,” Waltz tweeted, “would only pour fuel on the fire, further entrenching our nation’s divides,” though he left unspoken his role in aiding the movement that resulted in last week’s attacks and has left every state legislature on edge since, with warnings by the FBI that further violence may be ahead. /span>