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Good morning. Donald Trump has become the first U.S. president to be impeached twice.
Even during a scandal, a presidentâs own party members usually defend him. Decades later, people tend to forget how overwhelming the partisan support was and exaggerate the degree of conscience among politicians of the past.
In 1999, no Senate Democrats voted to convict Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial. Many Democrats made excuses for his affair with a 22-year-old White House intern, and some went so far as to smear her.
In the 1970s, Republican leaders spent months casting the investigations into the Nixon administration as partisan overreach. Gerald Ford, while still the Republicansâ House leader, called the Watergate investigation a âpolitical witch hunt.â Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush defended both Nixon and his bribetaking vice president, Spiro Agnew.
In the 1860s, Andrew Johnsonâs fellow Democrats stood solidly by him during his impeachment and kept him from conviction.
All of which helps puts yesterdayâs second impeachment of President Trump into perspective: It was both a strikingly partisan affair â and an unusually bipartisan one.
On the one hand, dozens of members of Congress refused to break with a president who tried to overturn an election result and incited a mob that attacked Congress, killing a police officer. Only 10 House Republicans voted for impeachment, and the final tally was 232 to 197.
âThe political penalties for encouraging extremism and attacking democratic norms are dangerously weak,â the political scientist Brendan Nyhan wrote yesterday.
On the other hand, Trump has suffered more defections from his party than any previous president besides Nixon, who ultimately lost Republican support and resigned before the House could impeach him. Yesterdayâs vote, Daniel Nichanian of The Appeal wrote, was âthe most bipartisan impeachment of a president in U.S. history.â
By comparison, only five House Democrats voted to impeach Clinton, The Timesâs Carl Hulse noted â three of whom later became Republicans, while a fourth joined the George W. Bush administration. In 2019, not a single House Republican voted to impeach Trump. Only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney, voted to convict, and other Republicans disdained the process from the start.
This time, they are sending a more nuanced message. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, has put out word that he is glad impeachment is happening, and he issued a statement yesterday saying he had ânot made a final decision on how I will voteâ in the Senate trial.
Of course, McConnell is a crafty politician who would like both to be rid of Trump and to prevent President-elect Joe Biden from passing much legislation. So McConnell also signaled yesterday that he would not start a Senate trial before Biden took office, effectively forcing Democrats to choose between trying Trump and focusing on Bidenâs agenda.
The delay seems to make conviction less likely. âPeopleâs outrage levels recede,â my colleague Maggie Haberman wrote yesterday. âMemories fade. And I do wonder if there will be as much Senate Republican anger next month as there is now.â
Still, the existence of that anger underscores the historic nature of yesterday. Trump became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice â and only the second to have a meaningful number of his party members in Congress deem him unfit to be president.
The 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment included Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 ranking Republican in the House; four others from safely Republican seats; and five from more competitive districts.
âIâm not afraid of losing my job, but I am afraid that my country will fail,â Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, whoâs in her sixth term, said. âMy vote to impeach our sitting president is not a fear-based decision. I am not choosing a side. Iâm choosing truth.â
MORE ON IMPEACHMENT
The Scene in Congress
As legislators gathered for the vote, National Guard troops lined the halls of the Capitol.
Members of Congress had to walk through metal detectors â generally reserved for guests â out of concern that some Republicans would bring guns to the House floor.
âNot since the dark days of the Civil War and its aftermath has Washington seen a day quite like Wednesday,â The Timesâs Peter Baker writes.
As Congress debated, Trump issued a statement: âI urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking.â Representative Jim Jordan, a Trump ally, read the statement aloud during the debate. Trump issued a similar statement by video after being impeached.
What the Members Said
Many House Democrats labeled Trump a danger to the country. âThe idea that our election was fraudulent is a lie. Our president used this lie to incite a violent mob to attack the Capitol,â said Carolyn Bourdeaux of Georgia, who flipped a Republican-held seat in November.
âEvery one of us in this room right now could have died,â Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, said.
Republicansâ arguments were more varied. Some blamed Trump for the violence but said impeachment would âfan the flames of partisan division,â as Kevin McCarthy, the House G.O.P. leader, put it.
Others praised Trumpâs accomplishments or noted he had since promised a peaceful transition of power. Some Republicans accused Democrats of excusing left-wing violence.
Two of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump spoke: Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, also of Washington. âThese articles of impeachment are flawed, but I will not use process as an excuse,â Newhouse said. âThere is no excuse for President Trumpâs actions.â
Other Riot Fallout
The F.B.I. warned police chiefs nationwide to be on high alert before Bidenâs inauguration.
Airbnb will cancel all reservations around Washington next week, refunding guests and reimbursing hosts.
New York City is ending contracts with the Trump Organization to run a Bronx golf course and skating rinks and a carousel in Central Park.
THE DAYâS OTHER NEWS
A team from the World Health Organization arrived in Wuhan to investigate the source of the virus. Chinese authorities barred two scientists because of positive antibody tests.
U.S. states are scrambling to meet the skyrocketing demand for vaccinations. Hereâs the new guidance about who gets a shot.
Prosecutors charged Rick Snyder, the former governor of Michigan, with willful neglect of duty over the crisis in Flint that left thousands of residents drinking lead-tainted water.
Gunmen killed at least 80 people in an ethnically driven massacre in Ethiopia.
Letter of Recommendation: Eat chips, The Timesâs Sam Anderson writes. âA bag of chips is a way to defeat time. It brings temporary infinity: a feeling that it will never end. A chip. A chip. A chip. Another chip.â
Lives Lived: Adolfo QuiÃ±ones, better known as Shabba-Doo, grew up in a public-housing project in Chicago and became a pioneer of street dance. He called it âa valid art form, on the same level as jazz or ballet.â He died at 65.
ARTS AND IDEAS
But the boom isnât about only the pandemic. Itâs bigger than that, Sean Monahan argues in The Guardian: Video games are replacing music as the dominant form of youth culture.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Joe Biden turned to Among Us and Animal Crossing: New Horizons to reach young voters. The rapper Travis Scott had more than 12 million viewers for a virtual concert on Fortnite last year â nearly double the audience of the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards. âWeâre going to see more of these events, even after regular concerts are safe to attend again,â an analyst told The Hollywood Reporter.
âTen years ago, younger generations were leaving behind traditional media for social media,â another analyst wrote in a 2020 Global Games Market Report. âToday, they are leaving behind social media for more interactive experiences.â
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Originally posted on https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/14/briefing/impeachment-capitol-trump-china-who-wuhan.html