Donald Trump is set to be the first president in US history to be impeached for a second time, as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on charging the outgoing president with inciting last week’s violent siege on the US Capitol.
The House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats, is expected to hold a vote on Wednesday afternoon on one article of impeachment, charging the president with “incitement of insurrection”.
More than 200 Democratic House members have already signed on to the legislation, and at least five House Republicans, including Liz Cheney, have said they will also vote to impeach Mr Trump, just one week before Joe Biden is set to be sworn in as the 46th US president.
Ms Cheney’s statement Tuesday evening, in which she said Mr Trump had “summoned the mob” that stormed the Capitol and resulted in at least five deaths, sent shockwaves through Washington. Ms Cheney is the third-most senior House Republican, and the daughter of Dick Cheney, the former vice-president.
After Mr Trump is impeached, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, will send the article of impeachment to the Senate for a trial.
While Ms Pelosi has not said when she will send the article, she appointed a slate of impeachment managers late on Tuesday, in a move that would allow her to proceed swiftly. The managers will prosecute the case against Mr Trump during a trial in the upper chamber. Chief among them is Jamie Raskin, the Democratic congressman from Maryland who also drafted the article of impeachment.
Steny Hoyer, Ms Pelosi’s second-in-command, said on Wednesday morning that the article could be sent as soon as this week.
“I think we’re going to send it as soon as we have the ability to do so,” he told MSNBC. “I don’t think we’re going to wait.”
That would pile pressure on Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, to begin an emergency session of the upper chamber of Congress in order to initiate a trial.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Mr McConnell was happy Democrats were pushing to impeach Mr Trump because he believed it would help the Republican party purge the president from its ranks. Mr McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, is one of three members of the president’s cabinet to have resigned in recent days over his handling of the Capitol riots.
A spokesperson for Mr McConnell did not respond to a request for comment.
Just three presidents, Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Mr Trump, have been impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanours”. Mr Trump stands to be the first to be impeached twice, and the only one to be impeached so close to the end of his term.
Mr Trump, who last week was banned from Twitter, has been relatively quiet in recent days, in sharp contrast to the barrage of social media commentary that punctuated his four years in the White House. On Tuesday, he told reporters the impeachment proceedings were “causing tremendous anger” and posing “tremendous danger to our country”.