“The facts are very clear – the president called for this seditious attack,” President Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday evening. “The impeachment of the president is an unprecedented action, but it is necessary because it is an unprecedented moment in history.
Rep. Liz Cheney, the 3rd House Republican, punctuated GOP defections on Tuesday night with a statement announcing her support for impeachment and accusing Trump of being solely responsible for the mob that led a murderous and destructive march to the Capitol on January 6. .
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” Cheney said in a statement. “The President of the United States called this crowd together, gathered the crowd and lit the flame of this attack.
In another important turn of events, the two main Republicans in Congress – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy – have privately signaled that they are also furious and willing to punish Trump one way or another for his role in inciting violence which led to five deaths, including one police officer.
McConnell has indicated that Trump’s actions qualifies him for dismissal, according to a source close to his thinking. McCarthy, perhaps Trump’s staunchest ally on the Hill, has privately said he remains opposed to impeachment, but asked GOP lawmakers whether he should pressure the president to resigns, according to a Republican lawmaker.
Public support for Cheney was quickly interpreted across Capitol Hill as a sign that more GOP lawmakers could break ranks and reverse impeachment – and potentially foreshadowed a split in a Republican party that has become almost uniquely defined by his loyalty to Trump. It also offers further evidence of the escalating fury among lawmakers on both sides, who were in personal danger on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
The House passed a resolution by a 223-205 margin on Tuesday night calling on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment despite the vice president’s formal rejection of the idea in a letter to Pelosi hours earlier.
“I don’t think such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or in accordance with the Constitution,” Pence said in a letter to Pelosi.
Now, the House will impeach Trump on Wednesday, a week after he harassed a crowd of his supporters, urging them to march to Capitol Hill and prevent “rigged elections” from being certified.
And a sign of how quickly Congress is moving forward, Pelosi appointed impeachment officials on Tuesday night even before the House voted. The nine House Democrats, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Will pursue the case against Trump in the Senate trial.
Trump himself remained defiant even as a growing faction in his party blamed him for Wednesday’s violence. Speaking in Texas on Tuesday afternoon, Trump issued a disturbing warning that the effort to fire him “would come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration.” As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. “
But Trump’s failure to back out of his bid to quash the election has only fueled conflict within the Congressional GOP, which has been split in two in the days since the president encouraged rioters. armed to march on the Capitol.
Cheney’s support for impeachment is a clean break with McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise – both of whom backed Trump’s efforts to overturn the floor elections last week. Scalise confirmed Tuesday night that he would vote against impeachment.
But it’s unclear how Cheney’s public approval will change the math for Republicans who have been privately dismayed, if not downright furious, with the president. Republican leaders are not planning to press their members to oppose Trump’s impeachment this time around, unlike the GOP position in 2019.
Representatives Fred Upton of Michigan, John Katko of New York, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois also expressed their support for the impeachment on Tuesday afternoon. Several other Republicans have indicated that they tend to join the Democrats, according to GOP sources.
Democrats have privately said the growing chorus of pro-impeachment voices from the GOP further bolstered their argument for Trump’s impeachment despite having a week left in office – offering a very different picture to that of the impeachment vote of 2019, when not a single Republican broke ranks with their party upstairs.
While McCarthy remains opposed to impeachment, he’s scrambling behind the scenes to figure out what to do next. He has asked members about asking Trump to resign, by a lawmaker, and is open to censorship, according to a GOP aide, though Pelosi and other top Democrats have already rejected the idea.
McConnell (R-Ky.) Refrained from commenting publicly on the impeachment process, but the source close to his thinking expects him to discuss the matter with the Republican Senate conference. The New York Times first reported on Tuesday that McConnell told associates he believed the president had committed uneasy crimes.
A McConnell spokesperson did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The Democrats’ push to impeach the president for an unprecedented second time has left some on Capitol Hill concerned about the measure’s potential split. Lawmakers on both sides fear the impeachment vote will once again ignite the pro-Trump mob that stormed Capitol Hill last week and terrorized lawmakers and staff and left dozens injured and five dead , including a policeman.
But Democrats, including Pelosi, say they have no choice but to firmly rebuke Trump. Almost all House Democrats have signed off on the impeachment effort.
The House Judiciary Committee, in an official pre-arraignment staff report released Tuesday night, said impeachment was the last tool left in Congress’ arsenal.
“The House took all the steps before the arraignment to contain the danger. Now is the time to consider this last, serious and necessary step, ”the panel wrote.
The court report also underscored the urgent need for Congress to impeach and impeach Trump even if his term ends so soon. On the one hand, the panel said, the Senate has the power to disqualify Trump from office in the future. And more importantly, they said, a president shouldn’t be immune from liability just because his term is almost over.
“This message must be sent even on the last day of the president’s term,” the report said.
Olivia Beavers, Melanie Zanona and Quint Forgey contributed to this report.