INDIANAPOLIS – The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time in his term, a historical first, on grounds that he incited insurrection during the riot at the U.S. Capitol Building last week.
For the second time, Indiana’s congressional delegation voted along party lines, with the two Democrats voting to impeach and the seven Republicans voting against.
“The Democrat Party is voting to divide America even further at a time ... when we should be doing everything we can to unite America,” U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, a Republican representing northeast Indiana, said in a video release. “Instead, Democrats put another impeachment measure on the floor of the House to impeach a president that they hate.”
Banks said he would attend Biden’s inauguration just as he attended Trump’s inauguration four years ago.
Two federal lawmakers from Indiana — Democrat Frank Mrvan and Republican Victoria Spartz — didn’t vote in the last impeachment because they hadn’t yet been elected to office. Both replaced retiring members of Congress and voted the same as their predecessors had in the first impeachment.
Insurrectionists stormed the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, videoing themselves destroying property and sitting in the House Speaker’s chair. At least five people died because of the violence, including a Capitol police officer and four rioters, as lawmakers hid in undisclosed and secure locations in fear of their lives for hours.
After intense pressure, Trump released a video asking insurgents to go home, saying he loved them and calling them “special.” It took Capitol Police about six hours to secure the building, from which sensitive materials had been stolen.
In retaliation for Trump’s role in the violence, Twitter permanently banned him and Facebook suspended his accounts until the end of his presidency on Jan. 20. Several major banks and other organizations pulled their funding or support for the president’s businesses.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita was one of just four state attorneys general not to join a letter condemning the U.S. Capitol riot because, Rokita said, the attorneys general didn’t condemn last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.
Rep. Larry Bucshon, whose 8th Congressional District covers southwestern Indiana, tweeted his opposition to impeachment during the four-hour debate, calling the action “divisive and honestly dangerous.”
“Tensions and passions in the country are running high. This action by the Dems will throw fuel on the fire. Calling for unity and then taking this divisive action shows their hypocrisy,” Bucshon said.
Ten Republicans voted for impeachment, breaking with their party, including Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, who said, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
The split among Republicans contrasted with Trump’s first impeachment in December 2019, when the Democratic majority voted to impeach the president without any Republican support.
Several other Republicans told colleagues and media that they feared for their lives if they voted to impeach the president.
Impeachment comes after the House resolved Tuesday to push Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment in order to oust Trump. Pence has declined to do so.
The case now moves to a U.S. Senate trial, where a possible two-thirds conviction could bar Trump from serving in public office in the future. However, any potential trial would begin no earlier than Jan. 19 and would bleed over into incoming President Joe Biden’s administration, hindering his ability to pass an aggressive agenda and reunite a divided country.
Trump supporters indicated that violence could erupt again in the days leading up to Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
An FBI memo reportedly warned of “armed protests” being planned at all 50 state capitols. The Associated Press wrote that other capitols had deployed National Guard units, called state police or even conducted building security training for personnel, including journalists.
Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said that there had been no direct threats that clashes would occur in Indiana. Carter assured Hoosiers that it would be “all hands on deck” for security.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he supported “peaceful expressions” of opinions but said, overall, Indiana hadn’t experienced the same election issues protesters rallied against.
“We will be not just prepared but ready (to) maintain law and order,” Holcomb said, borrowing a phrase frequently used by Trump during the summer’s protests.
The governor said he authorized 625 Indiana National Guard members to go to Washington. D.C., from Jan. 16-22 but that their departure wouldn’t impact safety plans in Indianapolis.