WASHINGTON (AP) — The House impeached President Trump on Wednesday for his encouragement of supporters who stormed the US Capitol, a vote that made him the first American president to be impeached twice.
While the previous three impeachments — those of Presidents Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Trump — took months before a final vote, including investigations and hearings, this time it will have only taken a week. After the rioting at the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “we must take action,” and Democrats — and 10 Republicans — appeared to share her view, voting to impeach Trump in Wednesday’s vote.
For now, the Republican-led Senate is not expected to hold a trial and vote on whether to convict Trump before Democrat Joe Biden is sworn in as president Jan. 20. Still, Democrats feel that action by the House sends an important message to the country.
A look at what will happen now that the Senate has impeached Trump in his last week in office:
SENDING TO THE SENATE
Now that the House passed the articles, Pelosi can decide when she sends them to the Senate. Under the current schedule, the Senate is not set to resume full sessions until Jan. 19, which is the day before Biden’s inauguration.
Some Democrats suggested Pelosi might wait to send the articles and allow Biden to begin his term without impeachment hanging over him. But many other Democrats have urged Pelosi to move immediately.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who will be in charge once Biden is sworn in, suggested in a letter to colleagues Tuesday the chamber might divide its time between confirming Biden’s nominees, approving COVID relief, and conducting the trial.
If the trial isn't held until Trump is already out of office, it could still have the effect of preventing him from running for president again.
Biden has said it’s important to ensure that the “folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage — that they be held accountable.”
It’s unlikely, for now, that enough Republicans would vote to convict, since two-thirds of the Senate is needed. Yet some Republicans have told Trump to resign, including Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, and few are defending him.
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse has said he would take a look at what the House approves, but stopped short of committing to support it.
Other Republicans have said that impeachment would be divisive. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, long a key ally of the president, has been critical of his behavior in inciting the riots but said impeachment “will do far more harm than good.”
Only one Republican voted to convict Trump last year — Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.
WHAT IMPEACHMENT WOULD MEAN
Democrats say they have to move forward, even if the Senate doesn't convict.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted on Friday that some people might ask why they would try to impeach a president with only a few days left in office.
“The answer: Precedent,” he said. “It must be made clear that no president, now or in the future, can lead an insurrection against the U.S. government.”