House Democrats on Tuesday began their two-part plan to hold President Donald Trump accountable for inciting his supporters to attack the Capitol last week, as a few Republicans announced they’d support the second step of impeachment.
The first step the House took was a 223-205 vote late Tuesday calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to convene the Cabinet and seek a majority vote to oust President Donald Trump. The resolution, authored by Democrats’ resident constitutional scholar, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, specifically asks 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.”
"I do not believe that such an action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution," Pence wrote, noting the 25th Amendment was designed address presidential incapacity or disability and using it to address undesirable behavior "would set a terrible precedent."
Expecting Pence to decline, the House had already set part two of their plan in motion by scheduling a Wednesday vote 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 voted against 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.”
“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 reveal his plan to support 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.
Upton cited Trump’s remark that his speech was “totally appropriate” in explaining his decision to back impeachment.
“This sends exactly the wrong signal to those of us who support the very core of our democratic principles and took a solemn oath to the Constitution,” Upton said in a statement. “I would have preferred a bipartisan, formal censure rather than a drawn-out impeachment process. I fear this will now interfere with important legislative business and a new Biden Administration. But it is time to say: Enough is enough.”
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.”