The United States House rushed on Tuesday to impeach President Donald Trump for the deadly attack on Capitol Hill, taking time only to try to persuade its vice president to oust him first. Trump showed no remorse, blaming the impeachment itself for the “enormous anger” in America.
Already scheduled to step down next week, Trump is set to become the only president in history to be impeached twice. His inflammatory rhetoric at a rally ahead of the Capitol uprising is now in the impeachment charge against him – to be repeated on Wednesday – even as the lies he has spread about voter fraud are still defended by some Republicans.
The House on Tuesday night approved a resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump by a Cabinet vote, although Pence has previously said he will not. The resolution, passed in 223-205 almost entirely along party lines, urged him to “declare what is obvious to a horrified nation: that the president is incapable of successfully discharging the duties and powers of his function.
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 to inaugurate the president elected Joe Biden ”.
Meanwhile, five Republican lawmakers, including third-largest GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, announced they would vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday, dividing the Republican leadership and the party itself.
“The President of the United States called this crowd, gathered the crowd and lit the flame of this attack,” Cheney said in a statement. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
As lawmakers reconvened on Capitol Hill for the first time since the bloody siege, they wereprepare for more violenceahead of Democrat Biden’s inauguration on Jan.20.
“We all need to do some soul searching,” said Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, author of the two laws, imploring other Republicans to join us.
Trump, meanwhile,warned lawmakers of impeachmentand suggested that it was the will to oust him that divided the country.
“To continue on this path, I think it creates enormous danger for our country, and it causes enormous anger,” Trump said.
In his first remarks to reporters since last week’s violence, the outgoing president offered no condolences for the dead or injured, saying only: “I don’t want violence.”
With Pence’s agreement to invoke the 25th Amendment ruled out, the House will move quickly to impeachment on Wednesday.
Trump faces only one charge – “incitement to insurgency” – in theimpeachment resolutionafter the most serious and deadly domestic incursion on the Capitol in the country’s history.
Representative Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argued that Trump has to go because, as she put it in Spanish, he is “loco” – crazy.
Republicans: John Katko of New York, former federal prosecutor; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an Air Force veteran; Fred Upton of Michigan and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state have announced that they too will vote for impeachment. Kinzinger was the only Republican to vote in favor of the resolution calling on Pence to act.
Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio said the “cancellation culture” was simply trying to undo the president. He said Democrats had tried to reverse the 2016 election since Trump took office and ended his term the same way.
Although a handful of House Republicans are joining the impeachment vote – and leaders are allowing them to vote however they want – it’s far from clear that there would then be two-thirds of the votes needed to condemn the closely divided Senate. Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling on Trump to “get out as soon as possible.”
Unprecedented events, just over a week away from Trump’s tenure, are unfolding in a nation bracing for more unrest. The FBI hasworryingly warned against possible armed demonstrationsby Trump loyalists ahead of Biden’s inauguration, and Capitol Police urged lawmakers to be on alert. The inauguration ceremony on the west steps of the Capitol will be closed to the public.
With new security, lawmakers were forced to go through metal detectors Tuesday night to enter the House chamber, not far from where Capitol Police, guns, had barricaded the door against the rioters. Some Republican lawmakers have complained.
A Capitol police officer died of injuries sustained in the riot and police shot a woman during the violence. Three other people have died in what authorities have called medical emergencies.
Biden said it was important to make sure that “the people who have engaged in sedition and threatening life, degrading public property, have done great damage – that they are held accountable.”
Ignoring fears that an impeachment trial would bog down the first days of his term, the president-elect encourages senators to divide their time between making his priorities confirming his nominees and approving COVID aid while also leading the trial.
When Congress resumed, unease swept through the halls. Morelawmakers test positive for COVID-19after taking cover during the siege. Many lawmakers voted by proxy rather than coming to Washington, a process that was put in place last year to limit the health risks associated with 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 that point would have the opposite effect of bringing our country”.
The impeachment bill for Representatives David Cicillin of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California, Raskin of Maryland, and Jerrold Nadler of New York was inspired by Trump’s false claims about his electoral defeat to Biden.
Judges across the country, including some appointed by Trump, have repeatedly dismissed cases challenging election results, and former Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, said there was no no sign of widespread fraud.
Like the 25th Amendment resolution, the impeachment law also details Trump’s pressure on state officials in Georgia to “find” him more votes, as well as his White House rally ahead of the Capitol siege, in which he cheered on thousands of supporters last. Wednesday to “fight like hell” and walk towards the building.
The mob overpowered the police, broke through security lines and windows and sacked the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to disperse as they finalized Biden’s victory over Trump in the Electoral College.
While some have questioned the president’s impeachment so close to the end of his term, there is precedent. In 1876, during the Ulysses Grant administration, Secretary of War William Belknap was indicted by the House on the day he resigned, and the Senate called a trial months later. He was acquitted.
Trump was impeached by the House in 2019 for relations with Ukraine and acquitted in 2020 by the Senate.
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