Congress move to impeach Donald Trump for second time gets under way

At least five Republicans have indicated they will back efforts to remove him for ‘incitement of insurrection’.

Broken glass from last week’s confrontation with a pro-Trump mob is seen in the door to the House chamber at the Capitol (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Broken glass from last week’s confrontation with a pro-Trump mob is seen in the door to the House chamber at the Capitol (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The US House of Representatives has opened its proceedings, poised to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time exactly a week after his supporters stormed the Capitol to protest his election defeat.

At least five Republicans have said they will join Democrats in voting to remove Mr Trump from office.

The article of impeachment charges the president with “incitement of insurrection”.

The House chaplain opened the session on Wednesday with a prayer for “seizing the scales of justice from the jaws of mob-ocracy”.

A vote is expected by the end of the day.

Already scheduled to leave office next week, Mr Trump is on the verge of becoming the only president in history to be impeached twice.

His incendiary rhetoric at a rally ahead of the Capitol uprising is now in the impeachment charge against him even as the falsehoods he spread about election fraud are still being championed by some Republicans.

The House on Tuesday night approved a Democrat-led resolution urging Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Mr Trump with a cabinet vote, although the vice president had already said he would not do so.

The resolution, passed 223-205 almost entirely along party lines, urged him to “declare what is obvious to a horrified nation: That the president is unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of his office”.

Mr Pence had told House speaker Nancy Pelosi it would not be in the best interest of the nation and it was “time to unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate president-elect Joe Biden”.

But five Republican legislators, including third-ranking House Republican leader Liz Cheney, announced they would vote to impeach on Wednesday, cleaving the Republican leadership and the party itself.

Liz Cheney
Liz Cheney (J Scott Applewhite/AP)

“The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” said Ms 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.”

A 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.

Legislators had to scramble for safety and hide as rioters took control of the Capitol and delayed by hours the last step in finalising Joe Biden’s victory.

Mr Trump showed no remorse on Tuesday, warning legislators off impeachment and suggesting it was the drive to oust him that was dividing the country.

“To continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country,” he said.

In his first remarks to reporters since last week’s violence, the outgoing president offered no condolences for those dead or injured, only saying: “I want no violence.”

Mr Trump faces a single charge — “incitement of insurrection” — in the impeachment resolution after the most serious and deadly domestic incursion at the Capitol in the nation’s history.

Republican representatives John Katko, Adam Kinzinger, Fred Upton and Jaime Herrera Beutler announced they would vote to impeach.

More ominously for a president clinging to his final week in office, the New York Times reported that influential Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks Mr Trump committed an impeachable offence and is glad Democrats are moving against him.

Though a handful of House Republicans will join the impeachment vote it is far from clear if there would then be the two-thirds vote needed to convict from the narrowly divided Senate.

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