WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As the House of Representatives headed for a vote on Wednesday to make Donald Trump the first US president to be twice impeached, the senior Senate Republican rejected calls for Democrats to reconvene the Senate for an immediate trial, anything but ensuring that Trump will. not to be ousted before the end of his term next week.
A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed on Twitter a Washington Post report that McConnell had informed Senate top Democrat Chuck Schumer that he was unwilling to bring the chamber into emergency session to consider removing Trump from office after the House is impeached.
The vote slated for in the House later Wednesday comes a week after a pro-Trump mob invaded the U.S. Capitol in a deadly attack shortly after the Republican president delivered an inflammatory speech to thousands of supporters and repeated false claims that an election was stolen from him due to electoral fraud. The crowd interrupted the official certification of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the November 3 election.
The House debated a single article of impeachment formally accusing Trump of inciting insurgency.
“We know that the President of the United States instigated this insurgency, this armed rebellion against our common country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, told her fellow lawmakers. “He must go. He represents a clear and present danger to the nation we all love.
Reuters previously reported that the Republican Senate leadership was discussing whether to open a trial as early as Friday, before Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
On January 6, Trump supporters raped the Capitol, sent lawmakers on the run, and left five people dead in their wake, including a police officer.
Pelosi said Trump was engaged in a “war on democracy” and that the “insurgents” and “national terrorists” who stormed Capitol Hill were “sent here by the president.”
No American president has ever been removed from office by indictment. Three – Trump in 2019, Bill Clinton in 1998, and Andrew Johnson in 1868 – have already been impeached by the House but have been left in power by the Senate.
Republicans gave speeches urging the House not to impeach Trump in the interest of promoting national healing, with some accusing Democrats of recklessness.
Lawmakers remained nervous after the violence last week, and large numbers of National Guard soldiers wearing fatigues and rifles were stationed outside and inside the building.
Under the US Constitution, impeachment in the House triggers a trial in the Senate. McConnell said no trial could begin until the Senate returns to regular session on January 19, just one day before Biden was sworn in.
‘Cancel the president’
Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, a prominent Trump ally who led his party’s opposition to the first impeachment in 2019, accused Democrats of continuing an impeachment campaign which he said began soon after. Trump’s inauguration in 2016.
“Why? The politics and the fact that they want to overturn the president,” Jordan told the House.
Lawmakers gave speeches on the House floor while wearing masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Impeachment is a remedy devised by the American founders of the 18th century to allow Congress to remove a president who has committed, as the Constitution stipulates, “treason, corruption or other serious crimes and misdemeanors.” If Trump is impeached, a two-thirds majority of the Republican-led Senate is needed to convict him, meaning at least 17 Republicans in the 100-member chamber would have to convict him.
If Trump is removed from office, Vice President Mike Pence would become president and fulfill his term.
Trump’s actions have weakened his grip on his party. While no Republican senator has said he will vote to convict, two – Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania – have called on Trump to step down.
At least five House Republicans, including Liz Cheney, a member of his party’s leadership team, have said they will vote for impeachment.
The House met in the same room where lawmakers hid under chairs and donned gas masks last Wednesday as rioters clashed with police in the halls of Capitol Hill after Trump urged supporters to walk on the building.
Breaking with standard procedure, House Republican leaders refrained from urging their members to vote against Trump’s impeachment, saying it was a matter of individual conscience.
“Instead of going forward as a unifying force, the majority in the House chooses to divide us further,” Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole told the House.
Cole was one of 139 House Republicans who voted against certification of election results hours after the violence.
“The President of the United States has launched an attempted coup in this country,” Democratic Representative Jim McGovern told the House ahead of a procedural vote on impeachment. “People have died. Everyone should be outraged. If this isn’t an impenetrable offense, I don’t know what it is.
Some Republicans have called for the creation of a commission to study the events surrounding the siege as an alternative to impeachment.
The House previously voted to impeach Trump in December 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress stemming from his request for Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter ahead of the election, as Democrats accused him of soliciting foreign interference to smear national policy. rival. The Republican-led Senate voted in February 2020 to keep Trump in power.
Wednesday’s impeachment article accused Trump of “inciting insurgency,” claiming he had instigated violence against the US government in a speech to thousands of supporters near the White House shortly before. the seat of the Capitol. The article also cited Trump’s January 2 phone call asking a Georgian official to “find” votes to overturn Biden’s victory in the state.
In his Jan. 6 speech, Trump falsely claimed he defeated Biden, repeated unsubstantiated allegations of fraud and widespread irregularities in a ‘rigged’ election, told his supporters’ to stop theft “,” show your strength “,” fight much harder “. and use “very different rules” and promised to accompany them to Capitol Hill, although he did not.
“If you don’t fight like hell, you won’t have a country,” Trump told his supporters.
Democrats could also use an impeachment trial to pass a vote preventing Trump from running again.
Only a simple Senate majority is needed to disqualify Trump from future office, but legal experts disagree on the need for an impeachment conviction in the first place.
(Reporting by David Morgan and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey and James Oliphant; Writing by Joseph Ax; Editing by Will Dunham, Scott Malone and Chizu Nomiyama)
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