A small but growing number of Republican lawmakers is signaling support for impeaching President Donald Trump after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday to try to upend his reelection defeat, leaving five people dead.
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a member of the Republican Party’s House leadership team, said Tuesday that she would vote to impeach Trump in his final days as president.
“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.
Also on Tuesday, New York representative John Katko and Illinois representative Adam Kinzinger, both Republicans, said they would vote to impeach the president.
While Republicans voted lockstep against impeaching Trump last year for pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democrat Joe Biden, who is now president-elect, House Republican leaders are indicating they do not intend to pressure their members to vote against impeachment this time around.
A total of 218 Democrats have signed on to the impeachment resolution, ensuring a majority in the 435-member House with or without any Republican votes against the outgoing Republican president.
While an impeachment resolution would be almost certain to pass, conviction by the Senate and removal from office is far from certain.
It is unclear whether House leaders would immediately send the impeachment resolution to the Senate for a trial on whether to convict Trump and remove him from office, given that his term ends next week.
The House is set to vote Tuesday on a resolution calling for Vice President Mike Pence and members of Trump’s Cabinet to use their constitutional authority to remove Trump from office as unfit to serve.
The measure, which is expected to pass, sets a 24-hour deadline for Pence to respond, but he has given no indication he supports the removal of Trump. That would set the stage for a House vote Wednesday on impeachment.
“The President represents an imminent threat to our Constitution, our Country and the American people, and he must be removed from office immediately,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a written statement on Monday.
Aside from Pence, no Cabinet member has given any public indication of supporting Trump’s ouster in the waning days of his presidency through use of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allows for the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare a president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Trump and Pence met late Monday at the White House for the first time since last week. Pence had angered Trump by rebuffing his entreaties to reject the Electoral College votes from several states Biden narrowly won, giving him the presidency.
A senior administration official said Trump and Pence “reiterated that those who broke the law and stormed the Capitol last week do not represent the America First movement backed by 75 million Americans [who voted for Trump] and pledged to continue the work on behalf of the country for the remainder of their term.”
Even though Trump’s four-year term expires at noon Jan. 20, the four-page proposed House impeachment resolution said Trump has “demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”
The impeachment resolution cites Trump’s unfounded accusations that he was cheated out of a second term by voting and vote-counting irregularities, his pressure on election officials in the southern state of Georgia to “find” him more than 11,000 votes to overtake Biden’s margin of victory in the state, and his statements at a rally last Wednesday urging thousands of supporters to march to the Capitol to pressure lawmakers to overturn the election outcome.
Biden said it is his “hope and expectation” that the Senate could simultaneously hold an impeachment trial and confirm his Cabinet appointments after he takes office, while also approving more aid for the flagging U.S. economy weakened by the soaring coronavirus pandemic.
He said Monday of the rioters, “It is critically important that there’ll be a real serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage — that they be held accountable.”
Biden also told reporters, “I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside," referring to next week’s swearing-in ceremony, which traditionally takes place at the U.S. Capitol's west steps, one of the areas where people stormed the building.
Even if Trump has already left office, a Senate impeachment conviction after his term ends would bar him from holding federal office again.
Republican Congressman Tom Reed said in a New York Times opinion piece that he would join an unspecified number of House colleagues in introducing a censure resolution against Trump on Tuesday as an alternative to a “hasty impeachment.”
“If our leaders make the wrong decision in how to hold him accountable, it could damage the integrity of our system of justice, further fan the flames of division, and disillusion millions of Americans ─ all while failing to accomplish anything,” Reed wrote.
If he is impeached again, Trump would hold a singular distinction among 45 U.S. presidents in the 245-year history of the United States, by becoming the only chief executive to be impeached twice.
Katherine Gypson contributed to this report.