US President Donald Trump is set to be impeached for the second time in an unprecedented House vote on Wednesday, a week after encouraging a crowd of loyalists to “fight like hell” against the election results just before storming the US Capitol in a siege.
While Trump’s first impeachment in 2019 brought no Republican votes to the House, a small but significant number of leaders and lawmakers are breaking with the party to join the Democrats, claiming that Trump violated his oath to protect and defend American democracy.
The staggering collapse of Trump’s final days in office, amid alarming warnings of more violence from his supporters, leaves the country in a difficult and unknown situation ahead of Democrat Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
“If inviting a mob to insurgency against your own government isn’t an unforgivable event, then what is it?” said Jamie Raskin, the Democrat from Maryland who helped draft the impeachment article.
Trump, who would become the only two-time impeached US president, faces a single charge of “incitement to insurgency.”
WATCH Trump reviews House’s efforts:
The four-page impeachment resolution builds on Trump’s own inflammatory rhetoric and the lies he spread about Biden’s election victory, including at a White House rally on April’s Day. January 6 attack on the Capitol, to support his arguments in favor of serious crimes and misdemeanors. as required by the Constitution.
Trump took no responsibility for the riot, suggesting it was the drive to oust him, rather than his actions around the bloody riot, which divided the country.
“To continue on this path, I think it creates enormous danger for our country, and it causes enormous anger,” Trump said on Tuesday, his first remarks to reporters since the violence last week.
A Capitol policeman died of his injuries during the riot and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people have died in what authorities have called medical emergencies. Lawmakers had to fight for safety and go into hiding as rioters took control of the Capitol and delayed the final step to finalize Biden’s victory by hours.
The outgoing president offered no condolences for those who died or were injured, saying only, “I don’t want violence”.
Some Republican support for impeachment
At least five Republican lawmakers, including Third House Leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, were not disappointed with the president’s logic. Republicans have announced they will vote to remove Trump, 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.”
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is reportedly angry with Trump, and it’s unclear how an impeachment trial would play out. In the House, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, one of Trump’s main allies, scrambled to suggest lighter censorship instead, but that option fell apart.
So far the Republican representatives: John Katko of New York, a former federal prosecutor; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an Air Force veteran; Fred Upton of Michigan; and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state announced they would also join Cheney in voting for impeachment.
The House first tried to push Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to intervene, passing a resolution Tuesday evening calling on them to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump from office.
The resolution urged Pence to “declare what is obvious to a horrified nation: that the president is unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of office.”
Pence has made it clear he will not do so, saying in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that it is “time to unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden.”
With new security, lawmakers had to go through metal detectors to enter the House chamber, not far from where Capitol Hill police, guns, had barricaded the door against rioters. Some Republican lawmakers have complained about the screening.
The impeachment bill is inspired by Trump’s false claims about his electoral defeat to Biden. Judges across the country, including some appointed by Trump, have repeatedly rejected cases challenging election results, and former Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, said there was no no sign of widespread fraud.
Trump was indicted just over a year ago on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for attempting to strengthen the Ukrainian leader to help politically harm Biden.