Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. World
13 January 2021

Donald Trump becomes first US president to be impeached twice

The conviction of Trump would require Republican Senators to decide that they’re no longer afraid of his supporters. 

By Emily Tamkin

President Donald Trump made history on Wednesday, becoming the only US president to be impeached twice after the House of Representatives voted 232-197 in favour. 

“If this isn’t an impeachable offence,” Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said during a debate ahead of the vote, “I don’t know what is.” But only a small sample of Republicans agreed. Though many Republicans condemned the storming of the Capitol, only 10 voted with the Democrats. Some said that they did not want to further inflame or divide the country; others offered to establish a bipartisan commission to look into what happened if Trump was not impeached, trading tangible accountability for the promise of an investigation.

Congress had previously asked vice-president Mike Pence to remove Trump from office by invoking the 25th amendment. On Tuesday, Pence and Trump met for the first time since a violent mob stormed the Capitol. Trump reportedly told the vice-president that he could go down in history as “a patriot” or “a pussy.” Pence then informed Congress and the country that he would not invoke the 25th amendment.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, has privately suggested that he is not opposed to impeachment. But he has also indicated that the Senate will not take up the articles of impeachment until 19 January, the day before Trump leaves office. Trump could be convicted after leaving office, provided the sentence imposed isn’t just removal from office, but also a bar on ever holding elected office again. But two-thirds of the Senate would need to vote to convict Trump, meaning 17 Republicans would need to side with their Democratic colleagues. 

Such an outcome is not impossible. A handful of Republicans have already suggested they are open to the idea, which would conveniently also rule Trump out as a future political opponent. But Republican Senators would have to decide that they’re no longer afraid of Trump supporters. That would make history of another kind.  

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
What are the green skills of the future?
A global hub for content producers, gaming and entertainment companies in Abu Dhabi
Insurance: finding sustainable growth in stormy markets

Topics in this article: