USA TODAY US Edition

Trump loses sup­port from more Repub­li­cans

- Bart Jansen and Led­yard King

WASHINGTON – The likely House vote Wed­nes­day on whether to again im­peach Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will stress frac­tures within the Repub­li­can Party over sup­port­ing or de­fend­ing him in the af­ter­math of a riot at the Capi­tol one week ago that left five dead.

All House Repub­li­cans sup­ported Trump in De­cem­ber 2019, when House Democrats im­peached him on charges of abuse of power and ob­struc­tion of Congress stem­ming from his deal­ings with Ukraine.

But the third most se­nior Repub­li­can in the House – Rep. Liz Cheney of Wy­oming – said Tues­day she will vote to im­peach Trump, a sign that at least a few other GOP law­mak­ers could join her in pun­ish­ing the pres­i­dent.

“Much more will be­come clear in com­ing days and weeks, but what we know now is enough,” Cheney said. “The Pres­i­dent of the United States sum­moned this mob, as­sem­bled the mob, and lit the flame of this at­tack. Ev­ery­thing that fol­lowed was his do­ing. None of this would have hap­pened with­out the Pres­i­dent.”

Democrats say Trump is a dan­ger to the coun­try and want to re­move him from of­fice days be­fore his term ends. The riot, which many law­mak­ers blame in part on Trump’s in­sis­tence that he won the elec­tion, sparked enough out­rage and op­po­si­tion to Trump that

some Repub­li­cans could vote to im­peach him a sec­ond time.

Repub­li­can lead­ers haven’t told mem­bers to vote against the ar­ti­cle of im­peach­ment, ac­cord­ing to a House Repub­li­can lead­er­ship aide speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity. The po­si­tion rep­re­sents a stark change from 2019, when lead­ers urged law­mak­ers to sup­port the pres­i­dent and pro­moted their unity.

“The big dif­fer­ence is their lives were threat­ened,” John J. Pit­ney Jr., a pol­i­tics pro­fes­sor at Clare­mont McKenna Col­lege, told USA TO­DAY. “Ukraine was lit­er­ally and metaphor­i­cally dis­tant. Peo­ple could for­get about Ukraine. If you were in the Capi­tol last week, you can’t for­get about the in­sur­rec­tion.”

A vote on im­peach­ing Trump is ex­pected to take place late Wed­nes­day – and pass – in the Demo­crat-con­trolled House. The one ar­ti­cle be­ing con­sid­ered charges the pres­i­dent with “in­cite­ment of in­sur­rec­tion,” for what Democrats say was his di­rect role in fo­ment­ing vi­o­lence at the Capi­tol on Jan. 6. The ram­page left one po­lice of­fi­cer dead, a fe­male ri­oter fa­tally shot and three other as­sailants dead.

Once it passes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would then de­cide when to take it to the Se­nate, where at least 67 of the 100 mem­bers would have to sup­port con­vic­tion.

A vote to con­vict, al­ready a long shot, al­most cer­tainly won’t hap­pen un­til af­ter Trump leaves of­fice Jan. 20, but the Se­nate also could vote to dis­qual­ify Trump from hold­ing fed­eral elec­tive of­fice again.

‘I will vote to im­peach’

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., has told as­so­ci­ates that he be­lieves Trump com­mit­ted im­peach­able of­fenses and that he is pleased Democrats are mov­ing to im­peach him, be­liev­ing it will make it eas­ier to purge him from the party, The New York Times re­ported Tues­day, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with his think­ing.

Dur­ing a con­fer­ence call Mon­day with House Repub­li­cans, Mi­nor­ity Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Calif., told law­mak­ers not to at­tack other Repub­li­cans who voted for im­peach­ment be­cause it could put their lives at risk, ac­cord­ing to a source fa­mil­iar with the call but not au­tho­rized to speak on the record.

Mem­bers have re­ceived threats af­ter their names have been said pub­licly by others, the source added.

Sup­port for im­peach­ment is ex­pected to be much smaller than for GOP ob­jec­tions to the Elec­toral Col­lege vote count last week, with per­haps a dozen Repub­li­cans join­ing Democrats. In 1998, five Democrats joined Repub­li­cans on three ar­ti­cles to im­peach Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, who, like Trump in 2019, was ac­quit­ted in the Se­nate.

Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., will vote to im­peach Trump, ac­cord­ing to the Syra­cuse Post-Stan­dard.

“To al­low the pres­i­dent of the United States to in­cite this at­tack with­out con­se­quence is a di­rect threat to the fu­ture of our democ­racy,” Katko said in a state­ment. “I will vote to im­peach this pres­i­dent.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., tweeted sup­port for re­mov­ing Trump from of­fice un­der the 25th Amend­ment and said he would con­sider the ar­ti­cle of im­peach­ment.

“I’ll vote the right way,” he said, although he thought im­peach­ment was a poor strat­egy be­cause he said it could make Trump ap­pear the vic­tim again.

Newly elected Rep. Peter Mei­jer, RMich., told CNN he is “strongly con­sid­er­ing” vot­ing to im­peach Trump be­cause the pres­i­dent is “no longer qual­i­fied to hold that of­fice.”

Others haven’t spelled out their po­si­tions, even as they crit­i­cize Trump.

Rep. John Cur­tis, R-Utah, tweeted af­ter the ri­ots that his anger con­tin­ues to grow over the des­e­cra­tion of the Capi­tol and that the pres­i­dent doesn’t have his sup­port. “What hap­pened was an act of do­mes­tic ter­ror­ism in­spired and en­cour­aged by our Pres­i­dent,” he said.

Ally Rid­ing, a spokes­woman for the Utah Repub­li­can, said he has yet to make a de­ci­sion on im­peach­ment.

“He feels like it’s a rushed process and he wishes that (they) would take time and call wit­ness and have hear­ings and do so in a way that ev­ery­one can come away with the same con­clu­sion as op­posed to the last im­peach­ment,” she told USA TO­DAY.

Rep. Brian Fitz­patrick, R-Pa., tweeted that Trump was re­spon­si­ble for the riot.

“The Pres­i­dent of the United States has been ly­ing to his sup­port­ers with false in­for­ma­tion and false ex­pec­ta­tions,” wrote Fitz­patrick, who also is con­sid­er­ing a res­o­lu­tion to cen­sure the pres­i­dent. “He lit the flame of in­cite­ment and owns re­spon­si­bil­ity for this.”

Many in GOP op­pose im­peach­ment

While some Repub­li­cans slam the pres­i­dent, others in the GOP are stand­ing by Trump and plan to op­pose im­peach­ment, say­ing im­peach­ment could fur­ther di­vide the na­tion.

McCarthy sug­gested other steps in­stead, in­clud­ing a res­o­lu­tion of cen­sure, cre­ation of a com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate the riot, and re­form­ing the Elec­toral Count Act of 1887.

Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., said in a New York Times col­umn that op­tions in­clude cen­sure, crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings and ac­tions un­der the 14th Amend­ment af­ter a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the events lead­ing up to the as­sault on the Capi­tol.

“We can­not rush to judg­ment sim­ply be­cause we want ret­ri­bu­tion or, worse, be­cause we want to achieve a par­tic­u­lar po­lit­i­cal out­come,” Reed said.

Rep. Jim Jor­dan, R-Ohio, said Tues­day that ef­forts to re­move Trump un­der the 25th Amend­ment or through im­peach­ment in the fi­nal days of his term will do noth­ing to unify the coun­try.

“Th­ese ac­tions will only con­tinue to di­vide the na­tion,” Jor­dan said.

One al­ter­na­tive be­ing dis­cussed is a pub­lic re­buke of Trump. A group of Repub­li­cans led by Fitz­patrick is cir­cu­lat­ing a res­o­lu­tion that cen­sures Trump be­cause “he acted in a man­ner grossly in­com­pat­i­ble with self-gov­er­nance and the rule of law.”

Trump’s sup­port slip­ping in polls

Pit­ney sug­gests Trump’s plum­met­ing ap­proval rat­ing could open up the door for Repub­li­cans to op­pose him. An av­er­age of pub­lic polls at RealClearP­ol­i­tics.com found Trump’s ap­proval rat­ing of 41.6% dropped 14 points from Dec. 30 to Jan. 10.

“His ap­proval rat­ing was never great, and it’s even lower now,” Pit­ney said. “Some Repub­li­cans may fig­ure they fi­nally have some space to stand up to him.”

But Trump is ex­pected to wield con­sid­er­able in­flu­ence af­ter he leaves of­fice, de­spite his re­moval from Twit­ter, Face­book and other so­cial me­dia web­sites.

“I think it is a chal­lenge for many of them, at least what we’ve seen so far,” Karen Hult, a po­lit­i­cal science pro­fes­sor at Vir­ginia Tech, told USA TO­DAY. “They agree with many ob­servers that this sim­ply doesn’t make sense to do im­peach­ment this late in the pres­i­dent’s term, es­pe­cially when at the same time, it’s very un­likely the Se­nate would reach a two-thirds vote to con­vict.”

The Repub­li­can Party from na­tional to lo­cal dis­trict lev­els re­mains a party of Trump, Hult said. Law­mak­ers might feel that their con­stituents elected them in Novem­ber to sup­port Trump and that they could face op­po­si­tion in de­fend­ing their seats if they op­pose him, she said.

“More im­por­tantly, per­haps for some of them, to vote in fa­vor of the im­peach­ment res­o­lu­tion would not be re­spon­sive to many of whom they see in their con­stituen­cies,” Hult said. “Many of th­ese peo­ple may be con­cerned about be­ing pri­maried in the next elec­tion.”

Se­nate GOP faces same dy­nam­ics

A Se­nate with 50 Repub­li­cans and 50 law­mak­ers who cau­cus with Democrats is un­likely to con­vict Trump with the re­quired two-thirds ma­jor­ity.

One ar­gu­ment for pur­su­ing im­peach­ment is that the Se­nate could bar Trump from hold­ing fu­ture of­fice if he is con­victed.

But the di­vide re­mains among Repub­li­cans. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., have called on Trump to re­sign. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said he will con­sider im­peach­ment if the House ap­proves a charge.

“One ar­gu­ment is: If they let him get away with this, that sends a sig­nal to fu­ture pres­i­dents they can do any­thing they want in the fi­nal weeks of their ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Pit­ney said.

Trump said Tues­day that im­peach­ment talk is caus­ing tremen­dous anger, but he wants “no vi­o­lence.”

“This im­peach­ment is caus­ing tremen­dous anger. It’s re­ally a ter­ri­ble thing that they’re do­ing,” Trump told re­porters Tues­day as he trav­eled to Alamo, Texas. “For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to con­tinue on this path, I think it’s caus­ing tremen­dous dan­ger to our coun­try and it’s caus­ing tremen­dous anger. I want no vi­o­lence.”

The tim­ing for a Se­nate trial is un­cer­tain. McCon­nell said the trial couldn’t be held be­fore Trump’s term ends Jan. 20.

But there is prece­dent for hold­ing a trial af­ter an of­fi­cial leaves of­fice.

Pelosi could de­lay send­ing the ar­ti­cle of im­peach­ment to the Se­nate to avoid a dis­trac­tion dur­ing the start of Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Bi­den’s term.

Pelosi told re­porters early Tues­day that she hasn’t de­cided when to send the ar­ti­cle to the Se­nate.

“That is not some­thing I will be dis­cussing right now as you can imag­ine,” Pelosi said. “Take it one step at a time.”

 ?? TASOS KATOPODIS/GETTY IMAGES ?? House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy has sug­gested steps other than im­peach­ment, in­clud­ing a res­o­lu­tion of cen­sure.
TASOS KATOPODIS/GETTY IMAGES House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy has sug­gested steps other than im­peach­ment, in­clud­ing a res­o­lu­tion of cen­sure.

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