Jan 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Impeachment vote will shuffle Republicans and Democrats

A mirror image of the Capitol tonight.
A mirror image of the Capitol tonight. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The expectation House Republicans will reject a plan to use the 25th Amendment to oust President Trump on Tuesday is shuffling Democrats and Republicans on the impeachment vote to follow.

Why it matters: House Democrats are split between those who want to deliver an impeachment resolution immediately and those who want to withhold it to allow other Senate business to proceed. A sizable number of Republicans may also vote to impeach after last week's pro-Trump assault on the Capitol.

  • Progressives are not happy with the discussion on waiting.
  • One aide told Axios a delay ignores the pressing need to limit the damage Trump can cause during his final days and lessen pressure on Senate Republicans over time.
  • There is some precedent to impeach and convict government officials after they’ve left office but never has a sitting president been impeached twice, let alone after he is no longer in power.
  • William Belknap, a war secretary in President Ulysses Grant's administration, resigned in 1876 and Congress later voted to impeach him. He was acquitted following a trial.

Some Republicans argue the House needs to focus on unity, and they consider impeachment a move that would further inflame partisan tensions.

  • "Personally, I continue to believe that an impeachment at this time would have the opposite effect of bringing our country together," said McCarthy in a letter to his colleagues tonight.

What’s next: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hasn't said if she will immediately deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Advocates of impeachment make a multi-pronged argument.

  • Trump would become the only president to have been impeached twice.
  • A vote in the House forces Republicans to go on the record about whether to condemn the president’s actions.
  • An impeachment creates a path for a Senate conviction and also allows for an additional vote to ban him from running for office in the future — an attractive option to some potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates.

This article has been corrected to reflect that Belknap's impeachment vote and acquittal occurred after he resigned.

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