House Republicans join Trump removal effort

By Lindsey McPherson
CQ-Roll Call/TNS

WASHINGTON - As the House returned Tuesday for a two-day session focused on holding President Donald Trump accountable for inciting his supporters to attack the Capitol last week, a few Republicans announced they’d join in the Democrat-led effort.

The House plans to take two votes to that effect. The first, scheduled for late Tuesday, would call on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to convene the Cabinet and seek a majority vote to oust Trump.

The resolution, authored by Democrats’ resident constitutional scholar, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, specifically calls on Pence “to declare what is obvious to a horrified Nation: That the President is unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of his office.”

Pence is not expected to act, however, so the House will vote Wednesday on an article of impeachment charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”

Ahead of the votes, some Republicans - including the No. 3 in GOP leadership - announced their plans to support impeachment.

“I will vote to impeach the president,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney said in a statement. The Wyoming Republican did not say how she planned to vote on the 25th Amendment resolution.

Cheney has been one of only a handful of members in her conference willing to regularly speak out against Trump. She had urged her colleagues last week to ignore pressure to reject the Electoral College results and to certify the votes for President-elect Joe Biden, arguing that is the only role the Constitution gives Congress in the process.

Last Wednesday, just before Congress convened a joint session to count the electoral votes, Trump urged his supporters gathered outside of the White House to “show strength” and pressure Congress not to certify the results. A mob then marched down to the Capitol and broke into the building, leading to hours of violence and chaos that resulted in five deaths and countless physical and emotional injuries.

Cheney was quick to blame Trump for inciting the violence and her statement Tuesday minced no words about his responsibility.

“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing,” she said. “None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to the news of Cheney’s support for impeachment by saying, “Good for her to be honoring the oath of office.”

Republican Reps. John Katko of New York and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois also announced Tuesday they plan to vote to impeach Trump.

“To allow the President of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko said in a statement. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action. I will vote to impeach this President.”

Katko, however, said he would not support the 25th Amendment resolution, which he noted is “nonbiding.”

“Vice President Pence has made clear he will not do this, and believes elected representatives should be tasked with this effort, not acting and remaining cabinet members,” he said. “Accordingly, I will not support this effort.”

Kinzinger’s statement did not say how he would vote on the 25th Amendment resolution, but he had previously called on Pence to use that power to remove Trump if the president didn’t resign.

On impeachment, Kinzinger said “there is no doubt in my mind” that Trump incited the insurrection against Congress.

“He used his position in the Executive to attack the Legislative,” Kinzinger said. “If these actions - the Article II branch inciting a deadly insurrection against the Article I branch - are not worthy of impeachment, then what is an impeachable offense?”

Trump has shown no remorse, as he declined Tuesday to take any responsibility for inciting his supporters who attacked the Capitol.

“They’ve analyzed my speech and words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody, to the T, thought it was totally appropriate,” he said as he departed the White House for a trip to Texas to tout progress on construction of the border wall.

Trump’s remarks only underscored Democrats’ resolve to hold him accountable.

“What Trump did today, blaming others for what he caused, is a pathological technique used by the worst of dictators. Trump causes the anger, he causes the divisiveness, he foments the violence and blames others for it. That is despicable,” Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer said at a press conference in New York.

“Donald Trump should not hold office one day longer,” he added. “And what we saw in his statements today is proof positive of that.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on July 21, 2020.