House races to impeachTrump; he blames foes for anger in U. S.
WASHINGTON— The House pressed forward Tuesday toward impeaching President Donald Trump over last week’s deadly Capitol insurrection, taking time only to try to persuade his vice president to push him out first, to no avail. Trump showed no remorse, blaming impeachment itself for the “tremendous anger” in the nation.
Already scheduled to leave office next week, Trump is on the verge of becoming the only president in history to be impeached twice.
His incendiary rhetoric at a rally ahead of the Capitol invasion is now in the impeachment charge against him, even as the misinformation he spread about election fraud is still being championed by some Republicans.
Three Republicans, however, including third-ranking House GOP
leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, announced they would vote to impeach Trump, cleaving the party’s leadership.
“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” said Cheney 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.”
Reps. John Katko of
New York, a former federal prosecutor, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an
Air Force veteran, said they, too, would vote to impeach.
As lawmakers reconvened at the Capitol for the first time since the bloody siege, they were also bracing for more violence ahead of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next Wednesday.
“All of us have to do some soul searching,” said Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, imploring other Republicans to join.
Trump, meanwhile, warned the lawmakers off impeachment and suggested it was the drive to oust him that was dividing the country.
“To continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous 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, only saying, “I want no violence.”
The House convened Tuesday night to vote on urging Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump with a Cabinet vote. But shortly before that, Pence said he would not do so, in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
He said that it would not be in the best interest of the nation or consistent with the Constitution and that it was “time to unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate Presidentelect Joe Biden.” Also, no member of the Cabinet publicly called for Trump to be removed from office through the 25th Amendment.
After that, the House likely will move swiftly to impeachment on Wednesday.
Trump faces a single charge — incitement of insurrection — in the impeachment resolution after the most serious and deadly domestic incursion at the Capitol in the nation’s history.
Rep. Jim Jordan, ROhio, a top Trump ally, still refuses to concede that Biden won the election outright. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., tied such talk to the Capitol attack, interjecting, “People came here because they believed the lie.”
A handful of other House Republicans could vote to impeach, but in the narrowly divided Senate, there are not expected to be the two-thirds votes to convict him, though some Republicans say it’s time for Trump to resign.
The unprecedented events, with just over a week remaining in Trump’s term, are unfolding in a nation bracing for more unrest. The FBI has warned ominously of potential armed protests in Washington and many states by Trump loyalists ahead of Biden’s inauguration. Capitol Police warned lawmakers to be on alert. The inauguration ceremony on the west steps of the Capitol will be off limits to the public.
Lawmakers will be required to pass through metal detectors to enter the House chamber, not far from where Capitol police, guns drawn, had barricaded the door against the rioters.
A Capitol police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot a woman during the violence. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies.
In the Senate, Pat Toomey, R-Pa., joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, over the weekend in calling for Trump to “go away as soon as possible.”
Sen. Rob Portman, ROhio, did not go that far, but on Tuesday called on Trump to address the nation and explicitly urge his supporters to refrain from further violence. If not, he said, Trump “will bear responsibility.”
Biden has said it’s important to ensure that the “folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage— that they be held accountable.”
Fending off concerns that an impeachment trial would bog down Biden’s first days in office, the president-elect is encouraging senators to divide their time between taking up his priorities of confirming his nominees and approving COVID relief while also conducting the trial.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., suggested in a letter to colleagues Tuesday the chamber would do both.
As Congress resumed, an uneasiness swept the halls. More lawmakers tested positive for COVID19 after sheltering during the siege.
Many lawmakers may choose to vote by proxy rather than come to Washington, a process that was put in place last year to limit the health risks of travel.
Among Trump’s closest allies in Congress, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was among those echoing the president, saying, “Impeachment at this time would have the opposite effect of bringing our country together.”
Democrats say they have the votes for impeachment. The bill draws from Trump’s own unfounded statements about his election defeat to Biden.
“President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government,” reads the fourpage impeachment article, which was introduced by Democratic Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California and Raskin.
“He will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office,” it reads.
The impeachment legislation 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 encouraged thousands of supporters last Wednesday to “fight like hell” and march to the building.
Once the House passes the article, Pelosi can decide when she sends them to the Senate. Under the current schedule, the Senate is not set to resume full sessions until Jan. 19, which is the day before Biden’s inauguration.
Some Democrats suggested Pelosi might wait to send the articles and allow Biden to begin his term without impeachment hanging over him. But many other Democrats have urged Pelosi to move immediately.
While some have questioned impeaching the president so close to the end of his term, there is precedent. In 1876, during the administration of President Ulysses Grant, Secretary of War William Belknap was impeached by the House the day he resigned, and the Senate convened a trial months later. He was acquitted.