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A television in the White House briefing room shows the near-final impeachment vote against President Trump. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump didn't earn his historic second impeachment just by inciting a riot on a single day. He laid its foundation event by event during the two months preceding it.

Why it matters: Uneasiness built to rage among some Republicans as the president challenged the election results, blocked important legislative accomplishments and cost the party its hold on the Senate.

  • Trump turned on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who loyally defended him for four years — for recognizing Joe Biden as president-elect. The Senate majority leader did it only after the Electoral College ratified his win.
  • The president threatened to shut down the government over the holidays by demanding $2,000 stimulus checks, setting McConnell’s caucus upon itself.
  • Those same senators also had to override Trump’s veto of a massive annual defense spending bill after he demanded they eliminate a social media regulation unrelated to national security.
  • Along the way, the president spent more time attacking GOP officials in Georgia than Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the two Democrats whose wins cost the Republicans their Senate majority.
  • The pot-stirring culminated in Trump’s mafioso-style phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, during which the president asked him to "find" a winning margin of votes.
  • The last straw was the insurrection at the Capitol, which followed the president's inflammatory speech to a pro-Trump rally.

The end result was another impeachment. Ten House Republicans, many of whom relied on Trump to get elected, voted with the Democrats.

  • Given the swelling support for impeachment among Republicans, including McConnell, Trump could make history again by becoming the first president to be convicted by the Senate after leaving office.

Go deeper

Conservatives warn culture, political wars will worsen

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The verdict is clear: The vast majority of Republicans will stand firm with former President Trump. The next phase is clear, too: Republicans are rallying around a common grievance that big government, big media and big business are trying to shut them up, shut them out and shut them down. 

Why it matters: The post-Trump GOP, especially its most powerful media platforms, paint the new reality as an existential threat. This means political attacks are seen — or characterized — as assaults on their very being. 

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
33 mins ago - Science

NASA's Mars helicopter is a test for the future of space exploration

Ingenuity (left) with Perseverance on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA is set to fly the first test flight of its tiny Ingenuity helicopter on Mars Sunday, marking the advent of drones for space exploration.

Why it matters: If successful, this flight will be the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The global future is looking dark and stormy

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

A new 20-year-forecast for the world: increasingly fragmented and turbulent.

The big picture: A major report put out this week by the National Intelligence Council reflects a present rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. How the next two decades will unfold depends largely on whether new technologies will ultimately unite us — or continue to divide us.