The US House rushed on Tuesday to impeach President Donald Trump for the deadly Capitol attack, only taking time to try to convince his vice president to oust him first. Trump showed no remorse, blaming the accusation itself for “tremendous anger” in America.
Already scheduled to leave office next week, Trump is on the verge of becoming the only president in history to be impeached twice. His inflammatory rhetoric at a rally ahead of the Capitol uprising is now in the charge of impeachment against him – set to be filed Wednesday – even as the lies he spread about electoral fraud are still being defended by some Republicans.
The House passed a resolution on Tuesday evening urging Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump by cabinet vote, even though Pence had already said he would not. The resolution, passed 223-205, almost entirely along party lines, urged him to “declare what is clear to a horrified nation: that the president is incapable of successfully exercising the duties and powers of office. to feed.”
Hours before the vote, Pence had said no. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he said it would not be in the best interest of the nation and that it was “time to unite our country as we prepare for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.”
Meanwhile, five Republican lawmakers, including House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming third rank, announced they would vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday, splitting the Republican leadership and the party itself.
“The President of the United States has gathered this crowd, gathered the crowd and lit the flame of this attack,” Cheney said in a statement. “There has never been greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and oath to the Constitution.”
When lawmakers rallied in the Capitol for the first time since the bloody siege, they braced for more violence ahead of Democrat Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
“We all need to do some soul research,” said Maryland Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin, an author on both pieces of legislation, and begged other Republicans to join.
Trump, meanwhile, warned lawmakers against impeachment, suggesting it was the motive to oust him that divided the country.
“To continue on this path, I think it poses a huge danger to our country, and it causes enormous anger,” Trump said.
In his initial comments to reporters since last week’s violence, the outgoing president expressed no condolences for the dead or injured, merely saying, “I don’t want violence.”
With Pence’s agreement to invoke the 25th Amendment out of the question, the House will swiftly impeach on Wednesday.
Trump is facing a single indictment – “ incitement to insurrection ” – in the resolution on charges following the most serious and deadly domestic raid on the Capitol in the country’s history.
Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argued that Trump should go because, as she said in Spanish, he is ‘loco’ – crazy.
Republican Representative John Katko from New York, a former federal prosecutor; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, a veteran of the Air Force; Michigan’s Fred Upton and Washington State’s Jaime Herrera Beutler announced that they too would vote for impeachment. Kinzinger was the only Republican to vote in favor of the resolution calling on Pence to act.
Republican Representative Jim Jordan from Ohio said the “cancel culture” was only trying to cancel the president. He said Democrats had been trying to reverse the 2016 election since Trump took office and similarly finished his term in office.
While a handful of House Republicans will join the impeachment vote – and the leaders allow them to vote as they please – it is far from clear that it would then take two-thirds of the votes to condemn the narrowly divided Senate. Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska this weekend and called on Trump to “get out as soon as possible.”
Unprecedented events, with just over a week remaining in Trump’s tenure, are unfolding in a country bracing for more unrest. The FBI has ominously warned of possible armed protests by Trump loyalists ahead of Biden’s inauguration, and Capitol Police urged lawmakers to be alert. The inauguration ceremony on the west steps of the Capitol is off limits to the public.
With new security, lawmakers had to pass through metal detectors on Tuesday night to enter the room of the House, not far from where Capitol Police, with guns drawn, had barricaded the door against the rioters. Some Republican lawmakers complained about it.
A Capitol police officer died of injuries sustained in the riot, and police shot a woman during the violence. Three other people died in medical emergencies.
Biden has said it’s important to make sure that “the people who engaged in sedition and endangered life, violated public property, wreaked havoc – that they are held accountable.”
To allay concerns that an impeachment process would weaken Biden’s early days in office, the president-elect is encouraging senators to divide their time between recording his priorities of confirming his nominees and approving COVID assistance while also leads the process.
When Congress resumed, unease flooded the halls. More lawmakers tested positive for COVID-19 after sheltering during the siege. Many lawmakers voted by proxy rather than coming to Washington, a process put in place last year to mitigate the health risks of travel.
One of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy was among those who echoed the president, saying that “impeachment at this point would have the opposite effect of bringing our country together.”
The impeachment bill of representatives David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California, Raskin of Maryland and Jerrold Nadler of New York is based on Trump’s own false statements about his election defeat against Biden.
Judges across the country, including some nominated by Trump, have repeatedly dismissed cases disputing the election results, and former Attorney General William Barr, an ally of Trump, has said there was no sign of widespread fraud.
Like the resolution to invoke the 25th Amendment, the impeachment law also describes Trump’s pressure on state officials in Georgia to “ find ” him more votes, as well as his White House meeting ahead of the Capitol siege, in which he the latter cheered on thousands of supporters. Wednesday to “fight like hell” and march to the building.
The crowd overwhelmed police, broke through security lines and windows, and swept through the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to disperse as they finalized Biden’s victory over Trump in Electoral College.
While some have questioned the president’s impeachment so close to the end of his term, there is precedent. In 1876, under Ulysses Grant’s reign, War Secretary William Belknap was deposed by the House on the day he resigned, and the Senate convened a trial months later. He was acquitted.
Trump was impeached by the House in 2019 for transactions with Ukraine and acquitted by the Senate in 2020.
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