Trump becomes first US president to be impeached for a second time

Trump

President Donald Trump has been impeached by the US House of Representatives for a historic second time.

Mr Trump was charged with "incitement of insurrection" over the deadly mob siege of the Capitol in a swift and stunning collapse of his final days in office.

With the Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops, the House voted 232-197 to impeach Mr Trump.

The proceedings moved at lightning speed, with representatives voting just one week after violent pro-Trump loyalists stormed the US Capitol, egged on by the president's calls for them to "fight like hell" against the election results.

Ten Republicans joined Democrats who said Mr Trump needed to be held accountable and warned ominously of a "clear and present danger" if Congress should leave him unchecked before Democrat Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20.

Mr Trump is the only US president to be impeached twice. It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in modern times, more so than against Bill Clinton in 1998.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gavels in the final vote of the impeachment
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gavels in the final vote of the impeachment (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Capitol insurrection stunned and angered politicians, who were sent scrambling for safety as the mob descended, and it revealed the fragility of the nation's history of peaceful transfers of power.

The riot also forced a reckoning among some Republicans, who have stood by Mr Trump throughout his presidency and largely allowed him to spread false attacks against the integrity of the 2020 election.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi invoked Abraham Lincoln and the Bible, imploring colleagues to uphold their oath to defend the US constitution from all enemies, foreign "and domestic".

She said of Mr Trump: "He must go, he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love."

Holed up at the White House, watching the proceedings on TV, Mr Trump later released a video statement in which he made no mention at all of the impeachment but appealed to his supporters to refrain from any further violence or disruption of Mr Biden's inauguration.

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Trump visits Alamo, Texas
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Trump visits Alamo, Texas
US President Donald Trump waves as he steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on January 12, 2021. - US President Donald Trump comes back from touring a section of the border wall in Alamo, Texas. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on January 12, 2021. - US President Donald Trump comes back from touring a section of the border wall in Alamo, Texas. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. President Donald Trump walks to the White House residence after exiting Marine One upon his return on January 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. Following last week's deadly pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill, Trump traveled to the border town of Alamo, Texas to view the partial construction of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
HARLINGEN, TX - JANUARY 12: President Donald Trump greets his supporters at Valley International Airport on January 12, 2021 in Harlingen, Texas. President Trump later delivered remarks during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico Border in Alamo, Texas. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
HARLINGEN, TX - JANUARY 12: The Marine One helicopter, which carries President Trump, prepares to take off from Valley International Airport on January 12, 2021 in Harlingen, Texas. President Trump later delivered remarks during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico Border in Alamo, Texas. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
HARLINGEN, TX - JANUARY 12: President Donald Trump walks to the Marine One helicopter after greeting his supporters at Valley International Airport on January 12, 2021 in Harlingen, Texas. President Trump later delivered remarks during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico Border in Alamo, Texas. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
HARLINGEN, TX - JANUARY 12: President Donald Trump walks down the stairs as he exits Air Force One at Valley International Airport on January 12, 2021 in Harlingen, Texas. President Trump later delivered remarks during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico Border in Alamo, Texas. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
HARLINGEN, TX - JANUARY 12: Supporters of President Donald Trump take photos of him while he greets them at Valley International Airport on January 12, 2021 in Harlingen, Texas. President Trump later delivered remarks during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico Border in Alamo, Texas. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
HARLINGEN, TX - JANUARY 12: A U.S. Marine stands guard as Air Force One, which carries President Trump lands at Valley International Airport on January 12, 2021 in Harlingen, Texas. President Trump later delivered remarks during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico Border in Alamo, Texas. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
HARLINGEN, TX - JANUARY 12: Supporters of President Donald Trump take photos as Marine Helicopter Squadron One approaches Valley International Airport on January 12, 2021 in Harlingen, Texas. President Trump later delivered remarks during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico Border in Alamo, Texas. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up after touring a section of the border wall in Alamo, Texas on January 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump tours a section of the border wall in Alamo, Texas on January 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump signs plaque on the border wall in Alamo, Texas on January 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump tours a section of the border wall in Alamo, Texas on January 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump speaks after touring a section of the border wall in Alamo, Texas on January 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump tours a section of the border wall in Alamo, Texas, on January 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump signs a plaque as he tours a section of the border wall in Alamo, Texas, on January 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump speaks after touring a section of the border wall in Alamo, Texas on January 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
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He said: "Like all of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity at the Capitol last week.

The president appealed for unity "to move forward" and said: "Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement."

Mr Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 to acquit. He is the first to be impeached twice. None has been convicted by the Senate, but Republicans said that could change in the rapidly shifting political environment as officeholders, donors, big business and others peel away from the defeated president.

The soonest Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would start an impeachment trial is next Tuesday, the day before Mr Trump is already set to leave the White House, Mr McConnell's office said. The legislation is also intended to prevent Mr Trump from ever running again.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Mr McConnell believes Mr Trump committed impeachable offences and considers the Democrats' impeachment drive an opportunity to reduce the divisive, chaotic president's hold on his party, a Republican strategist told The Associated Press.

Mr McConnell told major donors over the weekend that he was finished with Mr Trump, said the strategist.

In a note to colleagues on Wednesday, Mr McConnell said he had "not made a final decision on how I will vote".

Unlike his first time, Mr Trump faces this impeachment as a weakened leader, having lost his own re-election as well as the Senate Republican majority.

Even Mr Trump's ally Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, shifted his position and said the president bears responsibility for the horrifying day at the Capitol.

In making a case for the "high crimes and misdemeanours" demanded in the constitution, the approved four-page impeachment resolution relies on Mr Trump's own incendiary rhetoric and the falsehoods he spread about Mr Biden's election victory, including at a rally near the White House on the day of the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

A Capitol Police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. The riot delayed the tally of Electoral College votes that was the last step in finalising Mr Biden's victory.

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