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US election: At least 6 Republicans to vote to impeach Trump, President urges ‘no violence’

Key points:

• A historic debate is underway in the US House of Representatives over whether to impeach Donald Trump.
• National Guard troops massed at the iconic Capitol.
• A number of Republican leaders and lawmakers support the impeachment.
• Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is also said to back it.
• Trump issues statement urging ‘no violence, no lawbreaking’.
• Trump is watching proceedings on TV in his private dining area off the Oval Office.

‘THIS WAS AN ATTACK ON AMERICA – INCITED BY TRUMP – WE MUST REMOVE HIM’

Democrat Rep. Pramila Jayapal has hit out at Donald Trump over the Capitol riots saying the “serious attack on America” was “incited by Trump”.

She has asked on her colleagues to impeach the president.

“They had bombs. They killed several people. They had nooses, zip ties, and pipes. They came armed & with bulletproof vests. They chanted ‘Hang Mike Pence.’ They hunted the Speaker of the House.

“This was a serious attack on America—and it was incited by Trump. We must remove him.”

If Trump is impeached, a two-thirds majority of the Republican-led Senate is needed to convict him, meaning at least 17 Republicans in the 100-member chamber would have to find him guilty.

AT LEAST SIX REPUBLICANS WILL VOTE TO IMPEACH TRUMP

At least six Republicans have indicated they will vote to impeach US President Donald Trump, it has been reported.

A historic debate is underway in the US House of Representatives over whether to impeach him.

Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington, tweeted his statement where he indicated he we vote in favour of impeachment.

“Turning a blind eye to this brutal assault on our Republic is not an option,” Newhouse stated.

“There is no excuse for President Trump’s actions.

“Others, including myself, are responsible for not speaking out sooner — before the President misinformed and inflamed a violent mob,” Newhouse said.

“The President took an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Last week, there was a domestic threat at the door of the Capitol, and he did nothing to stop it. That is why with a heavy heart and clear resolve, I will vote yes on these articles of impeachment,” he said.

Newhouse now joins other Republicans who have said they will vote to impeach Trump. At least six have said they will break ranks.

These are the Republicans who say they will vote for impeachment so far:

Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington
Rep. John Katko of New York
Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler of Washington
Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois
Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming

TRUMP IS A ‘TRAITOR TO OUR COUNTRY’: DEMOCRAT ANNA ESHOO

Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat from California, called President Trump a “traitor to our country” during her speech on the House floor this afternoon.

Eshoo said: “future generations are not going to know the names of each member in the chamber today, in voting, but they will know what we did and why. We must impeach the President, because he incited a mob that attacked the Capitol of the United States. The tabernacle of our democracy.”

She added that Trump is “incapable of honouring his oath and our constitution, and he has proven to be dangerous.”

“I will vote to impeach this traitor to our country,” Eshoo said.

‘NO VIOLENCE’: TRUMP URGES AMERICANS, BIG TECH TO ENSURE PEACEFUL TRANSITION

Donald Trump has released a statement asking Americans to “ease tensions and calm tempers”, saying he does “not” stand for violence “of any kind”.

He has also asked Big Tech to join the effort.

“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind,” the president said in a statement to Fox News. “That is not what I stand for and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You.”

Trump is on the verge of being impeached for a second time in a fast-moving House vote, just a week after he encouraged loyalists to “fight like hell” against election results and then a mob of supporters stormed the US Capitol.

“We are debating this historic measure at a crime scene,” said District of Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern.

Security was exceptionally tight Wednesday (US time), with shocking images of National Guard troops massed at the iconic Capitol and secure perimeters around the complex. Lawmakers were required to go through metal-detector screenings to enter the House chamber.

While Trump’s first impeachment in 2019 brought no Republican votes in the House, a small but significant number of leaders and lawmakers are breaking with the party to join Democrats, saying Trump violated his oath to protect and defend US democracy.

Trump was impeached in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine but acquitted by the Senate in 2020.

The stunning collapse of Trump’s final days in office, against alarming warnings of more violence ahead by his followers, leaves the nation at an uneasy and unfamiliar juncture before Democrat Joe Biden is inaugurated January 20.

Trump, who would become the only US president twice impeached, faces a single charge of “incitement of insurrection”.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell will apparently not use emergency powers to immediately reconvene the chamber this week as the House moves forward with its vote on Trump’s impeachment, according to a post on Twitter from his spokesman.

This means, if the House impeaches Trump, a Senate trial on whether to convict him of inciting insurrection seems all but certain to have to wait until Biden is inaugurated.

During a heated debate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the House Trump “must go” and called him a “clear and present danger to the nation that we all love”.

“We know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion, against our country,” she said.

She described the January 6 riot as a “day of fire” and called on Republicans to “search your souls” as they prepared to vote.

“Those insurrectionists were domestic terrorists sent by the President’s words.”

Republican Representative Jim Jordan said Democrats were trying to “cancel the President”.

Democratic Representative for Louisiana Cedric Richmond used his final floor speech to urge his colleagues to impeach Trump.

“Stand up, man up, woman up, and defend this Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, including Donald J. Trump,” Richmond said, criticising Republicans who said Congress should unify the country and not impeach the president.

“In the first impeachment, Republicans said we didn’t need to impeach him because he learned his lesson,” he said. “Well, we said, if we didn’t remove him, he would do it again. Simply put, we told you so.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a frequent Trump ally, said the impeachment effort being pushed by House Democrats could “do great damage to the institutions of government” and warned his GOP colleagues not to support it.

Last week, Graham condemned the violent mob of the president’s supporters who invaded the Capitol. After that siege and after Trump had pushed the unconstitutional argument that Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the election results, Graham said to count him out and that “enough is enough”.

Still, Graham has stayed in touch with the increasingly isolated president. And Graham’s message to fellow Republicans on impeachment is that those “who legitimise this process, you are doing great damage not only to the country, the future of the presidency, but also to the party”.

He said the millions of people who have supported Trump and his agenda “should not be demonised because of the despicable actions of a seditious mob”.

At least five GOP House members have said they will support impeachment, and two Republican senators have called on Trump to resign. Another GOP senator has said he will take a look at the articles of impeachment when they are sent to the Senate.

Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger predicted more Republicans will join him in voting to impeach President Donald Trump.

The four-page impeachment resolution relies on Trump’s own incendiary rhetoric and the falsehoods he spread about Biden’s election victory, including at a White House rally on the day of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, in building its case for high crimes and misdemeanours as demanded in the Constitution.

Trump took no responsibility for the riot, suggesting it was the drive to oust him rather than his actions around the bloody riot that was dividing the country.

“To continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger,” Trump said Tuesday, his first remarks to reporters since last week’s violence.

One Capitol police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. Lawmakers had to scramble for safety and hide as rioters took control of the Capitol, delaying by hours the tally of Electoral College votes which was the last step in finalising Biden’s victory.

The outgoing president offered no condolences for those dead or injured, saying only, “I want no violence”.

At least five Republican lawmakers, including third-ranking House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, were unswayed by the president’s logic. The Republicans announced they would vote to impeach Trump, cleaving the Republican leadership, and the party itself.

“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” said Cheney in a statement. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Cheney’s father was the vice president under President George W. Bush and a Republican leader in the House. “She knows of what she speaks,” said Represetnative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic majority leader.

Unlike a year ago, Trump faces impeachment as a weakened leader, having lost his own reelection as well as the Senate Republican majority.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is said to be angry at Trump, and it’s unclear how a Senate impeachment trial would play out. The New York Times reported that McConnell thinks Trump committed an impeachable offense and is glad Democrats are moving against him. Citing unidentified people familiar with McConnell’s thinking, the Times reported McConnell believes moving against Trump will help the GOP forge a future independent of the divisive, chaotic president.

The president was said to be livid with perceived disloyalty from McConnell and Cheney, as calls mounted for her ouster. He was also deeply frustrated that he could not hit back with his shuttered Twitter account, the fear of which has kept most Republicans in line for years, according to White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing who weren’t authorised to speak publicly about private conversations.

The team around Trump has hollowed out, without any plan for combating the impeachment effort. Trump leaned on Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to push Republican senators, while chief of staff Mark Meadows called some of his former colleagues on the Hill.

Yet Trump and his allies believed that the president’s sturdy popularity with the GOP lawmakers’ constituents would prevent most from voting against him. After the riot at the Capitol, most House Republicans did go on that night to vote to overturn the election results.

Trump was expected to watch much of Wednesday’s proceedings on TV from the White House residence and his private dining area off the Oval Office.

In the House, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California, a top Trump ally, scrambled to suggest a lighter censure instead, but that option crumbled.

The House tried first to push Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to intervene, passing a resolution Tuesday night calling on them to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump from office.

Pence made it clear he would not do so, saying in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that it was “time to unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden”.

Debate over the resolution was intense after lawmakers returned the Capitol for the first time since the siege.

Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio revived Trump’s false claims about the election results at the heart of the impeachment charge, drawing sharp rebukes from McGovern and others that “big lies” were fueling the nation’s divide.

Republican Missouri Representative Jason Smith called the swift proceeding a “reckless” impeachment. He said, “This will only bring up the hate and fire more than ever before.”

It’s far from clear there will be the two-thirds vote in the evenly divided Senate needed to convict and remove Trump. Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to “go away as soon as possible”

With just over a week remaining in Trump’s term, the FBI warned ominously of potential armed protests by Trump loyalists ahead of Biden’s inauguration. Capitol Police urged lawmakers to be on alert. Charges of sedition are being considered for rioters.

New security in place, lawmakers were required to pass through metal detectors to enter the House chamber, not far from where Capitol police, guns drawn, had barricaded the door against the rioters. Some Republican lawmakers complained about the screening.

Biden has said it’s important to ensure that the “folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage — that they be held accountable”.

Fending off concerns that an impeachment trial would bog down his first days in office, the president-elect is encouraging senators to divide their time between taking up his priorities of confirming his nominees and approving Covid-19 relief while also conducting the trial.

The impeachment bill draws from Trump’s own false statements about his election defeat to Biden. Judges across the country, including some nominated by Trump, have repeatedly dismissed cases challenging the election results, and former Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, has said there was no sign of widespread fraud.

Like the resolution to invoke the 25th Amendment, the impeachment bill also details Trump’s pressure on state officials in Georgia to “find” him more votes and his White House rally rant to “fight like hell” by heading to the Capitol.

While some have questioned impeaching the president so close to the end of his term, there is precedent. In 1876, during the Ulysses Grant administration, War Secretary William Belknap was impeached by the House the day he resigned, and the Senate convened a trial months later. He was acquitted.

– AP

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