WASHINGTON – The U.S. House rushed ahead Tuesday toward impeaching President Donald Trump for the deadly Capitol attack, taking time only to try to persuade his vice president to push him out first. Trump showed no remorse, blaming impeachment itself for the “tremendous anger” in America.
Already scheduled to leave office next week, Trump is on the verge of becoming the only president in history to be twice impeached. His incendiary rhetoric at a rally ahead of the Capitol uprising is now in the impeachment charge against him, even as the falsehoods he spread about election fraud are still being championed by some Republicans.
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.
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 President-elect Joe Biden.”
Meanwhile, three Republican lawmakers, including third-ranking House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, announced they would vote to impeach Trump today.
“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, 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.”
The New York Times reported that influential Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks Trump committed an impeachable offense and is glad Democrats are moving against him.
Citing unidentified people familiar with the influential Kentucky Republican's thinking, the Times reported McConnell believes moving against Trump will help the GOP forge a future independent of the divisive, chaotic president.
McConnell thinks Trump's behavior before last week's assault on the Capitol by fuming Trump supporters cost Republicans their Senate majority in two Georgia runoff elections, the newspaper reported.
As lawmakers reconvened at the Capitol for the first time since the bloody siege, they were bracing for more violence ahead of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Jan. 20.
“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 from office 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 those dead or injured, only saying, “I want no violence.”
With Pence's agreement to invoke the 25th Amendment ruled out, the House will move swiftly to impeachment today.
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, R-Ohio, a top Trump ally just honored this week at the White House, refused to concede that Biden won the election outright.
Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., tied such talk to the Capitol attack, interjecting, “People came here because they believed the lie.”
Two Republicans, Reps. John Katko of New York, a former federal prosecutor, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an Air Force veteran, announced they, too, would vote to impeach.
A handful of other House Republicans could join in the impeachment vote, but it's not clear there would be a two-thirds vote needed to convict from the narrowly divided Senate, though some Republicans say it's time for Trump to resign.
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.”