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Donald Trump has become the first US president in history to be impeached twice, with a single article for “incitement of insurrection” passing the US House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Ten Republicans joined Democrats in voting for impeachment over Mr Trump’s role riling up a mob of supporters who stormed the US Capitol last week, leaving five dead.

The article was carried by 232 votes to 197, a result achieved with remarkable speed just a week before the president is due to leave office.

The Republican support is a marked difference from Mr Trump’s first impeachment in December 2019, when not a single member of his party in the House voted for the measure.

The second step will be a trial in the US Senate, where a vote from two thirds of the 100 senators would be needed for Mr Trump to be convicted. 

Pelosi bangs the gavel, signalling the result of the historic vote to impeach the president

Credit: REUTERS

Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, released a statement moments after the vote passed calling for the trial to be held after Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

Even though Mr Trump would have left the White House by then he can still be convicted by the Senate. If that happens, he could be barred from ever holding the presidency again.

Mr McConnell also did not rule out voting himself to convict Mr Trump, instead saying in a statement that he had “not made a final decision”. 

Mr Trump released a video statement after the vote urging calm. “Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence," he said.

pic.twitter.com/FIJbvCYGJ6

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 13, 2021

Democrats backing impeachment warned Mr Trump was a “clear and present danger” to America and said the Capitol storming was the most dangerous moment in US democracy for a century.

However it was the fierce condemnation from some Republicans who went public with their determination to impeach Mr Trump which was the biggest surprise.

Liz Cheney, the third most senior Republican in the House and the daughter of former US vice president Dick Cheney, said that Mr Trump “lit the flame of this attack”.

Ms Cheney added: “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution”.

The 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment were Ms Cheney of Wyoming, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, John Katko of New York, Fred Upton of Michigan, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, Dan Newhouse of Washington, Peter Meijer of Michigan, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Tom Rice of South Carolina and David Valadao of California.

The Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump

The debate took place at a US Capitol packed with National Guard members dressed in camouflage and carrying guns to maintain security.

Focus now turns to the Senate. Factoring in the November 2020 elections the Democrats hold 50 seats and the Republicans hold 50 seats.

After the inauguration the Democrats will control the body because it is the US vice president, soon to be Kamala Harris, who casts the deciding vote in ties.

That means in a trial held after the inauguration they will be able to control the process, including how long proceedings will last and whether witnesses should be called.

At least 17 Republican senators will need to support convicting Mr Trump on the single article of impeachment for that to happen, given there are 50 Democrats.

Even more Republicans may be needed if any Democrats refuse to convict. Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from Trump-voting West Virginia, has expressed reservations.

Reports that Mr McConnell, the most senior Republican in the Senate, privately supports impeachment have increased the possibility of multiple Republican rebels.

In a statement released just before the House vote Mr McConnell, the most powerful elected Republican after Mr Trump, pointedly did not rule out voting to convict the president.

Mr McConnell said: "While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate.”