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Donald Trump impeached for second time

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Donald Trump has become the first US president to be impeached twice, after a historic vote in the House of Representatives on Thursday (Australian time).

The House voted 232-197 to impeach Mr Trump for inciting an “insurrection” in last week’s US Capitol riots.

At least 10 Republicans changed side to vote with the Democrats, while many others abstained.

The vote is a stinging rebuke for America’s 45th president just days before his term ends after four tumultuous years.

The vote means Mr Trump will leave power on January 20 as the first president in the nation’s 245-year history to be impeached twice. He was also impeached in December 2019, but the Senate failed to convict him.

After the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has to decide when to transmit the article to the Senate, which will either dismiss the charge or hold a trial.

At least 67 of the 100 senators are needed for conviction – meaning several Republicans would also have to switch sides in the Senate. If Mr Trump is convicted, he will be removed from office.

However, a trial appears unlikely with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell releasing a statement shortly after the House vote indicating he did not think there was enough time before Joe Biden’s January 20 inauguration.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Mr McConnell, the Senate’s most senior Republican, is also said to have withdrawn his approval of Mr Trump following the violence at the Capital last week. The Associated Press reported on Wednesday (Australian time) that he was at least 50 per cent likely to vote for the impeachment.

Back in the House, among the Republicans to vote for the historic second impeachment were Dan Newhouse of Washington, John Katko of New York, Jamie Herrera Beutler of Washington, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Peter Meijer.

“I wholeheartedly believe our nation – and the system of government it was founded upon – may well be in jeopardy if we do not rise to this occasion,” Mr Newhouse said in his speech declaring his intentions.

“This is not a decision I take lightly.”

Ms Pelosi described Mr Trump as a danger to the country.

“We know that the president of the US incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country,” she said.

“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

Thursday’s vote came after Vice-President Mike Pence had earlier rejected a push from the House to oust Mr Trump from office under the little-used 25th amendment to the US constitution.

In a letter to Ms Pelosi, he said the mechanism should not be “a means of punishment or usurpation” and should be reserved for cases of medical or mental incapacitation. Doing otherwise would set “a terrible precedent”, he said.

“I urge you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment,” he wrote.

The President emerged from a week of self-imposed public silence on Wednesday (Australian time) to visit the construction site of his Mexico border wall in Texas.

He defended his speech to supporters ahead of the violence at the Capitol and lambasted Democrats for pushing ahead with the unprecedented second impeachment.

“What I said was totally appropriate,” he said as he left for Texas. “I want no violence.”

He did not answer questions about whether he would resign.