(Image: PrivateMedia)

After a vote in the US Congress this morning — Wednesday afternoon Washington time — US President Donald Trump became responsible for 50% of presidential impeachments.

The impeachment resolution the House voted on charged Trump with a single article: “incitement of insurrection”. It passed 232 to 197; 10 Republicans crossed the aisle.

Dynastic Republican Liz Cheney (the third most senior Republican in the House) had said on Tuesday she would vote to impeach Trump, as did John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan, and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington. They were joined by Dan Newhouse of Washington and Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio on Wednesday.

Michigan Republican Peter Meijer said he had voted to impeach Trump with a heavy heart: “President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to undermine our constitutional process, and he bears responsibility for inciting the insurrection we suffered last week.”

Even Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House leader who ultimately voted against impeachment, said: “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob violence.”

So, how did we get here?

Pleading for the 25th

On the Sunday after the riot, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to her congressional colleagues outlining what the Democrats in the House of Representatives planned in the coming week.

She called on Vice-President Mike Pence “to convene and mobilize the cabinet to activate the 25th amendment to declare the president incapable of executing the duties of his office”.

On Tuesday a vote to that effect passed.

At the same time, House Democrats introduced the article of impeachment, saying they would vote on it on Wednesday if Pence did not act. By this time Pence had already confirmed he would not invoke the 25th, making Tuesday’s vote entirely symbolic and ensuring impeachment went ahead.

Social media

After years of inaction, various social media platforms slowly increased their level of censure as Trump started to spread his baseless election fraud claims, with Twitter removing posts. In December YouTube announced it would remove videos disputing the election result. After the riots Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter blocked Trump’s accounts. Apple, Google and Amazon no longer host Parler, the platform favoured by the hard right and conspiracy theorists (so, Trump devotees).

Reddit banned the Trump subreddit, and Twitch disabled a streaming channel associated with him. Hashtags such as #StormTheCapitol and #StoptheSteal are being removed by TikTok and Pinterest. Financial technology company Stripe has stopped processing payments for Trump’s campaign website.

And to add to his sense of isolation and impotence, New England Patriots  head coach Bill Belichick knocked back Trump’s offer of a presidential medal of freedom, and the PGA is no longer using Trump’s golf course in New Jersey.

Trump does Trump

Trump has, shockingly, shown very little introspection in the past week. But on Tuesday, after taking a more conciliatory tone and laying low while people were talking about using the constitutional clause drafted for when the president goes certifiably insane, he held another rally and said his comments had been “totally appropriate” in the speech that, coincidentally, immediately preceded a violent siege of the Capitol building.

What’s next?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, having got his tax cuts and judicial appointments, has slowly wound back his contemptible indulgence of Trump’s assaults on democratic institutions, to the extent that now even he won’t rule out voting to convict Trump.

But despite McConnell reportedly welcoming impeachment, seeing it as a way to purge the now useless Trump from the Republican Party (ah, might be tough to get the toothpaste back in the tube, fellas…), his office has announced it won’t reconvene the Senate ahead of schedule to start Trump’s trial. The earliest a trial might begin is January 19, the day before president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, when the Senate was previously scheduled to resume work.

Beyond the timeframe is the question of control of the Senate. Some time in the next fortnight, Georgia will certify Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff’s special election wins which, added to the swearing-in of vice-president-elect Kamala Harris, will give Democrats effective control of the chamber.

Of course that wouldn’t guarantee a conviction; impeachment requires a two-thirds majority, so even if the Georgia newbies got to vote that’s 17 Republicans new Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer would have to convince.

When asked, Republican senators have either been equivocally in favour or unequivocally opposed. Mitt Romney, former presidential candidate and the only Republican senator to vote in the affirmative last time, told CBS: “When the president incites an attack against Congress, there must be a meaningful consequence. We will be considering those options and the best course for our nation in the days ahead.”

Outside the political process, we suspect you have a queasy instinct about what might happen next.

The FBI has warned of possible armed protests across the country as far-right groups call for demonstrations before Biden is sworn in as president. Indeed far right message boards have lit up with threats of violence. The Proud Boys, for their part, are making a big noise about not going — standing back and standing by, perhaps? — preemptively pushing the false flag narrative that anyone who looks like they’re Proud Boys is actually antifa in disguise.

Regardless, the BBC reports armed groups are apparently planning to gather at all 50 state capitol buildings and return to Washington DC in the run-up to the January 20 inauguration.