We’re looking at a second impeachment of President Donald Trump. The process will be different this time, both for the lawmakers sitting in judgment of Trump and for the man himself. One thing we know: He’ll stay in office and likely finish out his term, because it takes a Senate conviction to remove him.
One big change. Here’s a New York Times report that suggests Mitch McConnell, who protected Trump from impeachment in the Senate last time, is “happy” about it now.
More from CNN’s Manu Raju, Phil Mattingly, Jim Acosta and Kaitlan Collins: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he believes that impeaching President Donald Trump will make it easier to get rid of the President and Trumpism from the Republican Party, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
Another person with direct knowledge told CNN there’s a reason McConnell has been silent on impeachment as other Republicans have pushed back: he’s furious about last week’s attack on the US Capitol by the President’s supporters, even more so that Trump has shown no contrition. His silence has been deliberate as he leaves open the option of supporting impeachment.
Caveat. Let’s see if McConnell votes to punish Trump in a trial. That’s the real test.
How bizarre is this? For context, CNN’s Stephen Collinson writes, “It took 200 years for the country to rack up its first two presidential impeachments. Trump’s malfeasance has led the country down that awful, divisive path twice in just more than a year.” (Reminder: Those first two were for Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.)
The House timeline then:
86 days separated Trump’s phone call to Ukraine’s President and his impeachment by Democrats in December of 2019. There was a closed-door investigation, a public inquiry and a written report.
The House timeline now:
7 days separate Trump’s incitement of the mob that stormed the Capitol and his likely impeachment Wednesday. There’s no need for a drawn-out investigation. Trump did what he did live on TV. And then the riot happened.
The House votes then:
Back then the party circled around its President, who was up for reelection and had a year left in office.
The House votes now:
House GOP leaders are treating the vote as a matter of conscience, as Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican, put it. Cheney said late Tuesday that she will vote to impeach. Her statement is here. It’s possible 10 or more Republicans could join Democrats and vote for impeachment.
Related: CNN’s Chris Cillizza writes that Liz Cheney has become the conscience of the House GOP.
What will happen after Wednesday?
After he’s impeached, Trump will face a Senate trial, though it’s not clear how quickly that will move along. But while the Ukraine trial was an all-consuming affair, now Democrats want to split the days, hoping to conduct a trial part of the day and work on business — confirming Biden Cabinet members and addressing Covid during the other part.
The consequences now. The biggest difference this time is it will be a trial of a former president and if he’s convicted, additional Senate votes could bar him from office in the future and end his post-presidential perks.
Utah’s Sen. Mitt Romney was pilloried by fellow Republicans for standing up against Trump in his Ukraine impeachment trial. He could have company this year, when the Senate holds its trial.
Read more about the process and how this accelerated one will set its own special precedent.
What’s Trump say? The President asserted in Alamo, Texas, at an event to commemorate his effort to build a border wall that this new impeachment is connected to the old one:
“The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country and is causing tremendous anger and division and pain, far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the U.S.A., especially at this tender time.”
So that’s not going to quiet any of the unrest.
What is the GOP penance? Trump bears responsibility for the riot, but it’s clearly evolved beyond him. And GOP leaders like McConnell may be looking to purge the GOP of him. But that effort will have to be followed by action, after the GOP spent more than four years enabling Trump in pursuit of his loyal base.
What might have been: Imagine if McConnell had been crosswise to Trump’s efforts to block Biden before the election rather than waiting for Trump to deny the election. One wonders how things might look now.
Bottom line: We’re still going to be talking about Trump for a while after he leaves office January 20. The result might be some punishment for his lies and actions, but further focus on Trump will come much to the disappointment of Joe Biden, who would very much like to move on.
Impeachment is the political world reckoning. There’s also a reckoning in the business world. How long will pro-Trump GOP lawmakers be in the corporate penalty box? CNN’s Matt Egan writes that corporate America — Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Facebook, Microsoft — is suspending political donations. Airbnb, Amazon, Verizon and CNN owner AT&T won’t support the Republicans who tried to overturn Biden’s victory. But in this show of severing ties to the fringe of the GOP, the true test will come when Biden sets his sights on corporate tax rates. Read more.
Trump’s bottom line. His personal banker (Signature Bank) and his biggest lender (Deutsche Bank) are both severing ties. Read more.
New warnings and old warnings
The grassroots militia movement beneath Trump, which Republicans often tap into, appears to be entrenched and frighteningly beyond anyone’s control.
Unheeded warnings about Capitol siege. The FBI’s Norfolk, Virginia, office warned of a violent “war” at the US Capitol in an internal report issued a day before last week’s deadly invasion, but it wasn’t acted on urgently enough to prevent the domestic terrorist attack, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. Read more.
Fabulist iconography. Check out this photo story about the strange symbols of the rioters, which included Viking hats, invented country flags, warped Confederate symbols, Nazi jokes and more. This is an entire subworld speaking its own language.
Warnings about armed protests in state capitols. Here’s the FBI bulletin about armed protesters targeting state capitols during inauguration week.
New warnings about armed patriots.” Pennsylvania’s Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb told CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday that lawmakers had been warned about a plan by extremists to encircle the seat of Congress, as well as more threats against legislators. “They were talking about 4,000 armed ‘patriots’ to surround the Capitol and prevent any Democrat from going in,” Lamb said.
Who’s in charge? With acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf’s resignation, the US has relatively new people in charge at Defense, Justice and Homeland Security. CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez and Geneva Sands report on how Wolf’s departure comes just ahead of the inauguration, which the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service oversee.