The House is beginning debate Wednesday on an impeachment resolution that would make Donald Trump the first President in United States history to be impeached for a second time with a swift and bipartisan vote to condemn his role in inciting the riot at the US Capitol.
House Democrats and at least five Republicans — including the House’s No. 3 Republican — will vote in favor of the impeachment of Trump exactly one week after a deadly mob overran Capitol Police, ransacked the US Capitol and put the lives of Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers in danger.
The speed of the vote and the Republican support underscores the fury that lawmakers feel about Trump’s role inciting the rioters who overtook the Capitol with months of false rhetoric about the election being stolen from him. The impeachment resolution the House will vote on Wednesday charges Trump with a single article, “incitement of insurrection.”
The House will first vote Wednesday morning on the rules to govern the impeachment debate on the House floor, with a final vote on impeachment expected in the afternoon.
The number of Republicans who will ultimately vote for impeachment remains unclear, with estimates ranging from 10 to as many as 20. So far, five Republicans have said they will vote to impeach Trump. While House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise are opposed to impeachment — arguing that it’s a divisive response — they aren’t lobbying their conference against it, and the No. 3 House republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming announced Tuesday she would vote in favor, issuing a scathing statement that charged there had “never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
The division within the Republican Party starkly contrasts the House Democrats’ 2019 impeachment of Trump, when House Republicans were united in opposition. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he believes impeaching Trump will make it easier to get rid of the President and Trumpism from the Republican Party, The New York Times, CNN and other news outlets reported Tuesday, in another sign that Republicans are rapidly putting distance between the party and the President who ruled it the last four years.
Democrats have quickly coalesced around using impeachment in the final days of Trump’s presidency to serve as a proper response to the President’s conduct and as a way to push for his removal from office before the end of his term, although that scenario looks unlikely. The House approved a resolution urging Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from power late Tuesday evening, but Pence sent a letter ahead of the vote saying he would not do so.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has brushed aside Republican efforts to take a different action, such as censure, in response to Trump’s role in the riots. She named impeachment managers on Tuesday evening, a team of nine Democrats who will be led by Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, ahead of a likely trial in the days after President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said late Tuesday the House would send the articles to the Senate immediately.
“The President’s actions demonstrate his absolute inability to discharge the most basic and fundamental powers and duties of his office, therefore the president must be removed from office immediately,” Pelosi said on the House floor Tuesday evening.
Democrats have only grown more resolute in their push to impeach Trump over the riot as more information has come out about the attack on the Capitol, including violent images of Capitol police officers being attacked. Wednesday’s vote is happening as thousands of National Guard troops are guarding every nook of the Capitol complex ahead of next week’s inauguration, and they slept on the floors of the Capitol building the night before the impeachment vote.
Trump has showed no contrition for his role in last week’s Capitol riot, railing against impeachment on Tuesday in his first public remarks since the incident. A source close to the President said he’s not considering resigning.
“It’s been analyzed,” Trump said of his remarks last week to the crowd before the riots. “People thought what I said was totally appropriate.”
Wednesday’s impeachment vote threatens to complicate the opening days of the Biden administration, both in his efforts to reach out to Republicans and because the Senate is likely to be tied up with a trial just as Biden is taking office.
While McConnell has kept quiet on supporting impeachment, he has said he does not plan to bring the Senate back before January 19, meaning a potential Senate trial is likely to occur in a Senate led by incoming-Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Both Biden and Schumer have argued that the Senate will try to divide its days while conducting the trial, so the Senate can confirm Biden’s nominees and consider Covid-19 stimulus legislation while also carrying out the impeachment trial.
This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.