The US House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Donald Trump for a second time, accusing him of "incitement of insurrection" in the storming of the US Capitol last week.
The vote of 232 to 197 came a week after a pro-Trump mob rampaged through the Capitol. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer.
It was the first time in US history that a president has been impeached twice. The House impeached Trump in December of last year on two articles of impeachment, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Senate voted to acquit Trump on Feb 5.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected Democratic calls to reconvene the chamber for an immediate trial of Trump, ensuring he won't be ousted before his term ends on Jan 20 with the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
McConnell didn't rule out voting to convict Trump in the event of a trial. In a note to his fellow Republican senators just before the House was to begin voting, he said he is undecided.
Though McConnell has declined to hasten an impeachment trial, a Republican strategist told The Associated Press he believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and considers the Democrats' impeachment drive an opportunity to reduce the president's hold on the GOP.
McConnell called major Republican donors last weekend to gauge their thinking about Trump and was told that Trump had clearly crossed a line. McConnell told them he was through with Trump, said the strategist, who demanded anonymity to describe McConnell's conversations.
The New York Times first reported McConnell's views on impeachment on Tuesday.
While Trump's first impeachment in 2019 brought no Republican votes in the House, 10 House Republicans were breaking with the party to join Democrats this time, saying Trump violated his oath to protect and defend US democracy. Among them was Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House and the daughter of former Vice-President Dick Cheney.
As Wednesday's floor debate on whether to impeach Trump in the House was underway, on was underway, he issued a statement calling for there to be no violence at any of the protests that are expected to take place during ahead of Biden's inauguration.
"In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind," Trump said in the statement, which was first reported by Fox News. "That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You."
Trump has repeatedly declined to take any responsibility for last week's riot. But on Wednesday House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said for the first time that Trump does bear responsibility for the riot at the Capitol, acknowledging on the House floor before the vote that Biden is the next president and that radical liberal groups weren't responsible for the riots, as some conservatives claimed.
Still, McCarthy said he opposed impeachment, instead favoring a "fact finding commission" and censure.
If the Senate proceeds to a trial and convicts Trump, he couldn't be removed from an office he didn't hold. But the Senate could immediately hold a follow-up vote, subject only to a simple majority, to ban Trump from ever seeking office again.