Thursday, September 28, 2023

U.S. senators balk at impeaching Trump over siege on Capitol Hill

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Urgent pressure from Democrats in Congress to impeach Donald Trump for the second time is meeting resistance in the US Senate, with senior lawmakers on both sides of the aisle voicing opposition to the move.

House Democrats plan to hold a vote on the president’s impeachment for “inciting insurgency” on Tuesday or Wednesday, after collecting nearly 200 signatures of support. Mr Trump would become the first president in history to be impeached twice if the vote goes through the Democratic-controlled chamber.

But while a growing number of Republicans criticized the president for his role in preparing for the violence on the U.S. Capitol last week, none said they would vote to condemn him in the Senate. And several said over the weekend that they didn’t think impeachment was the best way to hold Mr. Trump accountable for his actions and those of his supporters.

“The best way for our country is for the president to resign and leave as soon as possible,” Pat Toomey, one of the Republican senators who led the president’s conviction, told NBC News on Sunday. He doubted that it was possible to remove Mr. Trump in the limited time he left in office or after.

Mr Toomey’s concerns were shared by Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator, who said he did not want the impeachment process to distract Mr Biden during his first months in office.

Mr. Asset was strongly condemned for urging a mob of supporters who continued to storm the Capitol building, resulting in the deaths of five people, including a policeman. Rioters briefly halted the certification of Mr. Biden’s election victory, which Mr. Trump continues to falsely claim was illegitimate, ransacked furniture and posed for photos.

And as members of Congress took shelter in a secure room amid the violence, they may have been exposed to the coronavirus, it emerged on Sunday. Brian Monahan, the attending physician in Congress, emailed members on Sunday, warning, “People may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”

The siege sparked a split within the GOP between Trump loyalists and establishment Republicans who want a post-defeat break with the president’s policies.

Several members of Mr. Trump’s administration have resigned, while others have called on him to face criminal charges once he leaves office.

Mick Mulvaney, the president’s former chief of staff who resigned his post as special envoy to Northern Ireland last week, said on Sunday that Wednesday’s events posed a “fundamental threat to the United States”. He predicted that Mr. Trump would be ostracized by his party as a result.

“I thought the president would be presidential. . . I don’t know what’s going on inside the Oval Office now and I don’t know what’s going on in the president’s head, ”Mulvaney told NBC News.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Republican governor of California, on Sunday compared Wednesday’s violence to Kristallnacht. “Wednesday was Broken Glass Day here in the United States. . . [Mr Trump] sought a coup by deceiving people with lies.

Donors have also started to turn their backs on Mr. Trump’s Republican allies, with at least three major corporate donors saying that they would no longer give money to certain party members. Marriott International, the hotel chain, said it would not donate to Republican senators who voted against certification of Mr. Biden’s election.

As Democrats prepare to impeach the president this week, they are likely to postpone referring the case to the Senate for trial until he leaves the White House. At this point, senators could vote on whether to exclude the president from his future duties, which would lose his hopes of running again in 2024.

Jim Clyburn, the Democratic majority House whip, said over the weekend that they could even delay the start of a Senate trial until after Mr Biden’s first 100 days in office.

Winning a Senate vote will likely prove to be much more difficult, however, than impeaching Mr. Trump. That would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate, and while several Republican senators have called on Mr. Trump to step down in the next 10 days, none have said they will definitely vote to condemn him.

Ben Sasse, the Republican senator from Nebraska, said this weekend that he would “consider” voting to convict Mr. Trump.

The outgoing president himself has been unusually quiet, having had his favorite megaphone removed when Twitter suspended his account on Friday.

This decision, as well as the decision of Amazon, Google and Apple to remove the right-wing social network Speak of their platforms, provoked a fierce conservative backlash against tech companies.

“Big Tech’s PURGE, censorship and abuse of power is absurd and deeply dangerous,” tweeted Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who led the movement to deny certification of Mr. Biden’s victory at the electoral university.

Meanwhile, authorities continue to announce new arrests following Wednesday’s violence. Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney for the District of Columbia, told NPR that “hundreds” of people could eventually face charges for the storming of the Capitol, which left five dead.


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