Los Angeles Times

Trump loses firm grip on Repub­li­cans

He shows no re­morse after Capi­tol siege. Sev­eral GOP House mem­bers say they will vote to im­peach him.

- By Evan Halper Sarah D. Wire and Chris Mege­rian US Elections · U.S. News · US Politics · Politics · Elections · Republican Party Politics · Donald Trump · Republican Party (United States) · Washington · United States of America · Congress of the United States · Democratic Party (United States) · Elizabeth Cheney · Wyoming · Mike Pence · Pence · Nancy Pelosi · San Francisco · Francisco · Joe Biden · Joe · Adam Kinzinger · Illinois · Texas · United States Army · John Katko · New York City · Upton · Michigan · Hunter Biden · Jim Jordan · Colorado · FBI · Joint Chiefs · United States Air Force Academy · United States Marine Corps · Air National Guard · Brazilian Army · White House · Rob Portman · Alamo, TX · Alamo, NV · Cheney, WA · Fred Upton · Jaime Herrera · Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

WASH­ING­TON — As Pres­i­dent Trump de­nied re­spon­si­bil­ity for the U. S. Capi­tol as­sault that left five peo­ple dead, the FBI vowed Tues­day to pros­e­cute hun­dreds of his sup­port­ers who took part in the at­tack, and sev­eral House Repub­li­cans — in­clud­ing the No. 3 GOP leader — an­nounced they would vote for im­peach­ment.

It marked the stark­est Repub­li­can de­fec­tion yet and could open the door for other GOP House mem­bers to join Democrats in Wed­nes­day’s his­toric im­peach­ment vote.

“The pres­i­dent of the United States sum­moned this mob, as­sem­bled the mob, and lit the f lame of this at­tack. Ev­ery­thing that fol­lowed was his do­ing,” Rep. Liz Cheney ( R- Wyo.) said in state­ment. “There has never been a greater be­trayal by a pres­i­dent of the United States of his of­fice and his oath to the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence — re­spond­ing for the f irst time to Demo­cratic calls that he take con­sti­tu­tional steps to re­move Trump from of­fice — de­clined to do so, and im­plored House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ( D- San Fran­cisco) and House Democrats not to pass a res­o­lu­tion urg­ing him to in­voke the 25th Amend­ment.

“I urge you and ev­ery mem­ber of Congress to avoid ac­tions that would fur­ther di­vide and inf lame the pas­sions of the mo­ment,” Pence said in a let­ter. “Work with us to lower the tem­per­a­ture and unite our coun­try as we pre­pare to in­au­gu­rate Pres­i­dent- elect Joe Bi­den as the next pres­i­dent of the United States. I pledge to you I will con­tinue to do my part to work in good faith with the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion to en­sure an or­derly tran­si­tion of power.”

But the House passed the res­o­lu­tion any­way by a vote of 223 to 205, with the sup­port of one Repub­li­can, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illi­nois.

“The facts are very clear,” Pelosi said in a f loor speech. “The pres­i­dent called for this sedi­tious at­tack.... He and his fam­ily cheered and cel­e­brated the des­e­cra­tion of the Capi­tol.”

Ear­lier in the day, Trump, mak­ing his f irst pub­lic ap­pear­ance since the Jan. 6 at­tack, de­nied inciting his sup­port­ers and de­nounced the move to im­peach him a sec­ond time.

“The im­peach­ment hoax is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the great­est and most vi­cious witch hunt in the his­tory of our coun­try,” Trump said in Alamo, Texas, where he vis­ited the bor­der wall. “It’s caus­ing tremen­dous anger, di­vi­sion and pain, far greater than most peo­ple will ever un­der­stand, which is very dan­ger­ous for the USA, es­pe­cially at this very ten­der time.”

He in­sisted his speech to sup­port­ers shortly be­fore the melee was “to­tally ap­pro­pri­ate.” It was not the con­tri­tion some Repub­li­cans had hoped to hear, and seemed to ac­cel­er­ate Trump’s loss of power and inf lu­ence in the fi­nal days of his pres­i­dency.

By late af­ter­noon, Rep. John Katko, a mod­er­ate Repub­li­can from up­state New York, be­came the first in his party to an­nounce he would vote to im­peach Trump. Cheney be­come the sec­ond, fol­lowed by Kinzinger. Rep. Fred Up­ton of Michi­gan said in the evening that he would also vote to im­peach, pro­nounc­ing “enough is enough.” Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­can Rep. Jaime Her­rera Beutler also said she would vote yes.

Nearly a dozen oth­ers are thought to be con­sid­er­ing a vote for im­peach­ment.

That’s a stark con­trast from 2019, when no House Repub­li­can dared vote to im­peach Trump for his pres­sur­ing of Ukrainian of­fi­cials to in­ves­ti­gate then- pres­i­den­tial ri­val and now Pres­i­dent- elect Joe Bi­den and his son Hunter Bi­den. That unity was long a source of pride for Trump.

Even Repub­li­cans who side with Trump have avoided de­fend­ing his ac­tions. They in­stead have warned that pun­ish­ing him could fur­ther di­vide the na­tion.

Rep. Jim Jor­dan ( ROhio) por­trayed ef­forts to re­move Trump as po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

“Con­tin­u­ing calls to im­peach the pres­i­dent or re­move him with the 25th Amend­ment … one week be­fore he is set to leave … is, I don’t think, very healthy,” Jor­dan said dur­ing a House com­mit­tee meet­ing ear­lier in the day.

Democrats lam­basted Jor­dan for con­tin­u­ing to cling to the false claims of wide­spread elec­tion fraud that in­spired the vi­o­lent mob.

Demo­cratic law­mak­ers have pre­pared a sin­gle ar­ti­cle of im­peach­ment, ac­cus­ing the pres­i­dent of inciting an in­sur­rec­tion. With Demo­cratic con­trol of the House and the GOP de­fec­tions, Trump is all but cer­tain to be­come the only U. S. pres­i­dent to be im­peached twice.

Amid height­ened se­cu­rity con­cerns, me­tal de­tec­tors were in­stalled at the en­trance to the House cham­ber Tues­day night. Law­mak­ers were also sub­ject to scan­ning with me­tal- de­tect­ing wands, yet an­other ig­no­min­ious first in the Capi­tol in re­sponse to wide­spread con­cern of re­newed vi­o­lence sur­round­ing the vote and next week’s in­au­gu­ra­tion.

The new se­cu­rity pro­ce­dures be­came a point of par­ti­san ten­sion it­self, with

some Repub­li­can mem­bers ex­press­ing ou­trage. At least a dozen of the law­mak­ers pushed past the police or walked around the de­tec­tors, in­clud­ing Colorado Rep. Lau­ren Boe­bert, who re­fused to let the police search her bag after she set off the me­tal de­tec­tor.

“I am legally per­mit­ted to carry my f irearm in Wash­ing­ton, D. C. and within the Capi­tol com­plex,” Boe­bert later tweeted, even though House rules specif­i­cally pro­hibit f irearms in the cham­ber. “Me­tal de­tec­tors out­side of the House would not have stopped the vi­o­lence we saw last week — it’s just an­other po­lit­i­cal stunt by Speaker Pelosi.”

The FBI warned Mon­day that Trump sup­port­ers were plan­ning armed protests at all 50 state capi­tols and the U. S. Capi­tol in the com­ing days. Fed­eral prose­cu­tors said Tues­day that they had opened a broad in­ves­ti­ga­tion of pos­si­ble sedi­tion and con­spir­acy in con­nec­tion with the at­tack on the Capi­tol. More than 170 case f iles have been opened by the FBI, with charges al

ready f iled against more than 70 peo­ple.

Michael Sher­win, the act­ing U. S. at­tor­ney in Wash­ing­ton, said at a news brief­ing that the num­ber of peo­ple charged would prob­a­bly “grow into the hun­dreds.”

“We’re look­ing at sig­nif­i­cant felony cases tied to sedi­tion” and con­spir­acy that could carry prison terms of up to 20 years, Sher­win said.

In an ex­tra­or­di­nary mes­sage to all mem­bers of the armed forces Tues­day, the mil­i­tary’s top lead­er­ship called the Jan. 6 Capi­tol at­tack “a di­rect as­sault on the U. S. Congress, the Capi­tol build­ing and our con­sti­tu­tional process.”

The email mes­sage, signed by Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark A. Mil­ley and the uni­formed heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force and Na­tional Guard, em­pha­sized that Bi­den would be in­au­gu­rated next week and be­come com­man­der in chief.

The mil­i­tary lead­ers told troops that their job was to “sup­port and de­fend the

Con­sti­tu­tion,” adding that “any act to dis­rupt the con­sti­tu­tional process is not only against our tra­di­tions, val­ues, and oath; it is against the law.”

Dur­ing his brief pub­lic ap­pear­ances Tues­day, the pres­i­dent in­sisted that “we want no vi­o­lence.” He said there was noth­ing wrong with his speech at the rally out­side the White House last week, when he urged his sup­port­ers to march on the Capi­tol as Congress was con­duct­ing the cer­e­mo­nial count­ing of the elec­toral votes to for­mal­ize Bi­den’s vic­tory.

“They’ve an­a­lyzed my speech and my words and my fi­nal para­graph, my fi­nal sen­tence, and everybody just thought it was to­tally ap­pro­pri­ate,” Trump falsely claimed.

Sen. Rob Port­man ( ROhio) re­leased a state­ment blam­ing Trump and say­ing the pres­i­dent would also bear re­spon­si­bil­ity for fur­ther vi­o­lence in Wash­ing­ton and at state capi­tols if he does not ex­plic­itly and un­am­bigu­ously ad­dress the na­tion and urge his sup­port

ers to stand down.

As law­mak­ers wor­ried about the prospect of more vi­o­lence, they also strug­gled with ex­po­sure to the coron­avirus. The at­tack on the Capi­tol threat­ened to be­come a su­per- spreader event, as law­mak­ers were forced to­gether in close quar­ters in safe rooms where some re­fused to wear masks. By Tues­day, sev­eral House mem­bers had tested pos­i­tive for the virus that causes COVID- 19.

The out­break moved House lead­ers to im­pose rules dur­ing Tues­day’s de­bate that in­cluded f ines for fail­ing to com­ply with their mask re­quire­ment on the House f loor. Law­mak­ers could be slapped with a $ 500 f ine for a f irst of­fense and $ 2,500 for a sec­ond of­fense. The mask rule touched off fur­ther anger and protest from some Repub­li­can law­mak­ers.

‘ The pres­i­dent of the United States sum­moned this mob, as­sem­bled the mob, and lit the flame of this at­tack.’ — Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, third- rank­ing Repub­li­can in the House

 ?? J. Scott Ap­ple­white AP ?? REP. LIZ Cheney ( RWyo.), shown in De­cem­ber, on Tues­day ac­cused the pres­i­dent of be­trayal.
J. Scott Ap­ple­white AP REP. LIZ Cheney ( RWyo.), shown in De­cem­ber, on Tues­day ac­cused the pres­i­dent of be­trayal.
 ?? Chip So­mod­ev­illa Getty I mages ?? HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi and other law­mak­ers face ad­di­tional se­cu­rity screen­ing to en­ter the House cham­ber on Tues­day. At least a dozen Repub­li­cans pushed past or went around de­tec­tors. One re­fused to let the police search her bag after set­ting off the de­tec­tor.
Chip So­mod­ev­illa Getty I mages HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi and other law­mak­ers face ad­di­tional se­cu­rity screen­ing to en­ter the House cham­ber on Tues­day. At least a dozen Repub­li­cans pushed past or went around de­tec­tors. One re­fused to let the police search her bag after set­ting off the de­tec­tor.

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