Donald Trump became the first US president in history to be impeached twice when the US House of Representatives voted Wednesday to charge him with inciting last week's mob attack on Congress.
"Today, in a bipartisan way, the House demonstrated that no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States," Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after the vote.
She said of Trump: “He must go, he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
The Senate will not hold a trial before January 20, when Democrat Joe Biden assumes the presidency, meaning the real estate tycoon will escape the ignominy of being forced to leave early.
He is set, however, to face a Senate trial later and if convicted he might be barred in a follow-up vote from seeking the presidency again in 2024.
"Donald Trump has deservedly become the first president in American history to bear the stain of impeachment twice over," said Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, who in a week's time will become Senate leader.
"The Senate is required to act and will proceed with his trial."
In the House of Representatives, the only question was how many Republicans would join the lockstep Democratic majority in the 232-197 vote. At final count, 10 Republicans broke ranks, including the party's number three in the House, Representative Liz Cheney.
"I am in total peace today that my vote was the right thing and I actually think history will judge it that way," said Adam Kinzinger, a vocal Trump critic and one of the Republicans who crossed the aisle.
Holed up in the White House, Trump issued a videotaped address in which he made no mention of impeachment or his ferocious attempts to persuade half the country into believing that Biden's victory was fraudulent.
Instead, the comments focused on an appeal for Americans to be "united," avoid violence and "overcome the passions of the moment."
"There is never a justification for violence. No excuses, no exceptions: America is a nation of laws," Trump said.
Biden called Wednesday's decision by lawmakers "a bipartisan vote cast by members who followed the Constitution and their conscience."
Biden, who inherits the pandemic and an ailing economy amid many other woes, urged the Senate to address his priorities such as approving cabinet nominations while also dealing with Trump's trial.
"I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation," Biden said in a statement.
Trump may hire a law professor who spoke at his rally before the riot at the US Capitol to help defend him in the impeachment trial, according to two people familiar with the matter.
John Eastman, who joined Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on stage at the Jan. 6 rally, is being considered for a role on Trump's defense team, the people told Reuters.
Giuliani who told the crowd they should engage in "trial by combat," may lead the impeachment defense, Reuters reported on Sunday, citing a source. Giuliani has not responded to requests for comment.
Eastman, who made unsubstantiated claims of election fraud at the rally, would neither confirm nor deny whether he will represent Trump, citing attorney-client privilege.