WATCH: Will a Trump impeachment further divide America? Expert weighs in
A majority of the members of the lower chamber of Congress voted in favour of impeaching the Republican president on Wednesday over one charge: “incitement of insurrection.”
In the impeachment article introduced on Monday, Democratic lawmakers argued that Trump “threatened the integrity of the Democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government.”
“He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States,” the article read.
The lawmakers said Trump “demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office.”
The vote to impeach comes one week after thousands of the president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., in an effort to interfere with the confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.
The rioters sent hundreds of lawmakers, their staffers and members of the media fleeing. The building was locked down for hours as law enforcement worked to secure it.
Five people, including one Capitol police officer, died as a result of the violence.
In the days since the protest, dozens have been arrested and are now facing charges.
In December 2019, Trump became the third U.S. president to have been impeached – joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.
He is now the first in the history of the republic to be impeached twice.
The House first impeached Trump over two charges – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after he attempted to pressure Ukrainian officials to announce an investigation Biden’s son Hunter.
He was ultimately acquitted by the Republican-held Senate in February 2020, and remained in office.
In the days after the violent protest at the Capitol, lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum have called for the president to resign.
Republican senators Pat Toomey and Lisa Murkowski are among the elected officials who have broken party ranks and called for Trump to vacate the office.
On Tuesday, House members returned to the floor to vote on a resolution calling upon Vice-President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and use his constitutional authority to remove Trump from office.
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The resolution passed with a 223 to 205 vote.
However, in a letter to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Pence said he would not remove Trump from office, saying doing so is “not in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution.”
“Last week I did not yield to pressure to exert power beyond my Constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election, and I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our nation,” he wrote in the letter.
Pence urged all members of Congress to “avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment.”
“Work with us to lower the temperature and unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden as the next president of the United States,” Pence said, pledging to do his part to “ensure an orderly transition of power.”
What happens next?
Like last time, now that the House has voted to impeach the president, the process moves on to the Senate.
The upper chamber of Congress will now hold a trial to discuss the charge.
Pelosi said Tuesday Rep. Jamie Raskin will serve as lead impeachment manager and will argue for removing the president from officer during the Senate trial.
Democrats Diana DeGette, David Cicilline, Joaquin Castro, Eric Swalwell, Ted Lieu, Stacey Plaskett, Joe Neguse and Madeleine Dean have also been named as impeachment managers.
Speaking on the House floor Tuesday evening, Pelosi said removal of the president is an “unprecedented action.”
“But it is required because it is an unprecedented moment in history because the danger that he poses,” she said.
The upper chamber will be tasked, again, with deciding whether to remove Trump, an action never before taken by Congress.
However, with only one week left in his tenure, experts say this is unlikely to happen.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell sent a memo to GOP senators last week, outlining a possible timeline for a trial, according to a Reuters report.
He said the Senate will hold its next work session on Jan. 19 and would need consent of all 100 senators to convene sooner – meaning a trial would not begin until Trump was out of office, a source familiar with the document told the outlet.
Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris are scheduled to be sworn into office on Jan. 20.
“A lot of it is symbolic,” Matthew Lebo, chair of political science at Western University said of the move to impeach the president.
“But just because the guy is not going to be president doesn’t mean you can ignore the possibility that he’s committed high crimes and misdemeanors (and) potentially treason,” he told Global News in a previous interview.
Lebo explained that the Senate trial can continue past the 20th, and could result in Trump losing privileges granted to former presidents including his pension or secret service protection.
The GOP could also bar Trump from running for office again in 2024, he said.
In a statement released Wednesday by the office of his press secretary, Trump urged there to be “NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism at any kind leading up to the inauguration.
“That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for,” the statement read. “I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You.”
-With a file from Global News’ Rachael D’Amore
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.