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Highlights and analysis: House impeaches Trump for 'incitement of insurrection'

Trump is the first president to be impeached twice.
Image: Red bubbles show the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump with words about \"impeachment,\" \"election\" and \"insurrection.\"
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

In a historic vote, the House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Donald Trump for urging his supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol last week, making him the first president to be impeached twice.

The article of impeachment, for "incitement of insurrection," was adopted by the Democratic-controlled House, 232 to 197, after several hours of debate. A group of 10 Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump.

Democrats are prepared to send the resolution to the Senate immediately to allow a trial to determine whether to convict Trump and bar him from holding future office, although it is unclear when that trial will happen.

Trump has defended his speech at a march last week that helped incite a crowd of his supporters to violently storm the U.S. Capitol, calling it "totally appropriate" on Tuesday. That remark came just hours before the House approved a separate resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.

This live coverage has ended. Continue to read about the impeachment process from Monday and Tuesday and about the events leading up to the riot at the Capitol last week and its aftermath.

Read the highlights:

— Pence rejected House Democrats' demand to invoke the 25th Amendment as more Republicans back impeachment.

— "Mind-blowing" number of crimes committed during Capitol riot, 160 case files opened, say officials.

— "Chilling": Security tightens around the Capitol ahead of Biden inauguration amid "increased threat."

McCarthy says Trump 'bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack'

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in remarks on the House floor that Trump is to blame for last Wednesday's attack on the Capitol — but he shouldn't be impeached for it. 

"The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding," McCarthy said on the House floor before the impeachment vote. 

McCarthy, however, said he opposes impeaching Trump, suggesting the censure of the president and a bipartisan commission to investigate the events leading up to the riot might be the better options. 

'I'm not going anywhere': Cheney responds to calls for her ouster as part of GOP leadership

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said Wednesday that she has no plans to heed calls for her to step down as the third-ranking Republican in the House after backing Trump's impeachment.

"I'm not going anywhere. This is a vote of conscience," Cheney told a member of the press pool on Capitol Hill. "It's one where there are different views in our conference. But our nation is facing an unprecedented, since the Civil War, constitutional crisis. That's what we need to be focused on. That's where our efforts and attention need to be."

 

Gaetz draws boos from Dems as he blames left for inciting 'far more political violence than the right'

Speaking as the House debates a vote on impeaching President Trump a second time, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., was loudly booed after he accused Democrats of setting cities on fire over the summer.

Gaetz, one of Trump's closest allies and defenders, called impeachment "an itch that doesn't go away with just one scratch," referred to what he called the "the Biden crime family" and mentioned the same false claims about a wrongfully decided election that led to last week's Capitol riot.

"I denounce political violence from all ends of the spectrum," Gaetz said. "But make no mistake, the left in America has incited far more political violence than the right. For months, our cities burned, police stations burned, our businesses shattered."

"Some cited the metaphor that the president lit the flame, well they lit actual flames, actual fires," Gaetz said, drawing loud boos from Democrats as he pointed to their side of the chamber. "And we have to put them out."

According to a pool report, as Gaetz began his speech, Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., lifted his right hand and pointed his finger to his head and twirled it as if to signal that Gaetz is crazy. He later shook his head several times through Gaetz's speech. 

Democrats shouted back at Gaetz as he ended his speech, giving him a smattering of boos and calling for "order" as the chair used the gavel to try to calm the scene.

Republicans continue to defy metal detectors as Capitol security ramps up

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., passes through a metal detector before entering the House chamber, a new security measure put into place after a mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 12, 2021.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

House Republicans on Wednesday defied the newly installed metal detectors at the entrance to the chamber for the second day in a row ahead of the imminent vote on whether to impeach President Trump.

Matt Fuller, a reporter for HuffPost, recorded at least 12 GOP lawmakers either side-stepping the metal detectors or setting them off and continuing on to the House floor. They included Reps. Virginia Foxx of Virginia, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma and Louie Gohmert of Texas.

Read more here.

McConnell rejects request to hold impeachment trial before inauguration

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., confirmed a report from the Washington Post's Seung Min Kim saying the Kentucky lawmaker had said he would not agree to reconvene for an impeachment trial before the inauguration.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had urged McConnell to use an emergency provision that would allow them to come back earlier, but it would have required both leaders to agree to do so. 

Republican Senate leaders meanwhile were blindsided Tuesday after the New York Times reported McConnell was “pleased” that Trump was getting impeached, NBC News has learned.

McConnell’s leadership team, which includes Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Rick Scott, R-Fla., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were not given a heads up ahead of the story that made clear how McConnell felt about impeaching the president, multiple aides familiar with the days events tell NBC News.

NBC News has not independently confirmed the Times reporting, but McConnell’s office has not disputed the report and Republicans on Capitol Hill have been treating it as gospel. 

Trump grows defiant as the White House becomes a ghost town

President Donald Trump is set to be impeachedagain, on Wednesday, but this time, he will lack the megaphone of Twitter to respond and be without a robust and aggressive defense from his White House and allies.

Stripped of the ability to fire off real-time responses, Trump must rely on a White House staff that has largely been replaced with moving boxes as aides head for the exits and allies fail to offer a defense of him in public.

But the silence from the president shouldn't be interpreted as submission, those close to him say. Instead, Trump continues to cling to his false assertion that he won the election and is refusing pleas that he leave office days before his term expires because of his role in the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Read the story.

'We told you so,' Democratic Rep. Richmond says

In what is likely his final floor speech as a congressman, Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., urged his colleagues to impeach Trump.

“Stand up, man up, woman up, and defend this Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, including Donald J. Trump,” Richmond said, criticizing Republicans who said Congress should unify the country and not impeach the president.

“In the first impeachment, Republicans said we didn’t need to impeach him because he learned his lesson," he said as he was reminded he was out of time. "Well, we said, if we didn’t remove him, he would do it again. Simply put, we told you so. Richmond out.”

Richmond, who has served in Democratic leadership as assistant majority whip, is retiring from Congress to join President-elect Joe Biden’s administration as a senior adviser.

House Democrat asks FBI to investigate 'reconnaissance' tours claims

Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., said she has requested an FBI investigation into allegations she made Tuesday that some members of Congress led people through the Capitol on a "reconnaissance" tour of the building a day before the riot last week.

“We’re requesting an investigation right now,” Sherrill told reporters Wednesday.

In the Facebook video Sherrill posted Tuesday, she did not make clear which members she allegedly saw leading such groups on tour, or who was in the groups, but said, “There's members of Congress who incited this violent crowd."

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, told reporters Wednesday that he was aware of the names of some of those congressmen, but wouldn’t reveal their identities.

"I’ve heard a couple, but I'm going to wait to make sure we get verification," Ryan said. "I don’t want to throw any member under the bus."

Ryan added that the allegations had “been passed on” to authorities “as early as Wednesday night, Thursday morning last week."

Pelosi calls Trump 'a clear and present danger' to the U.S. ahead of impeachment vote

Opening two hours of debate ahead of the impeachment vote Wednesday afternoon, Pelosi laid out her argument for why the president should be held accountable for the events leading to the riot in the Capitol last week.

"We know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion, against our country," she said in remarks on the House floor. "He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love."

Pelosi said the people who participated in the insurrection were "not patriots," but rather "domestic terrorists." 

She called on Republicans to "search your souls" as they approached the vote. 

"Is the president's war on democracy in keeping with the Constitution? Were his words and insurrectionary mob a high crime and misdemeanor?" she asked.

House moves to consideration of impeachment measure

The House voted 221 to 203 to adopt the rules for consideration of the impeachment measure, which they are debating this afternoon.

The rule, which no Republicans supported, allows two hours for the floor debate on one article of impeachment charging President Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for urging his supporters to march on the Capitol last week, resulting in a riot the left five people dead.