The House held an emotionally charged debate on impeaching President Trump on Wednesday as lawmakers marched to an afternoon vote to impeach him, just a week after he incited a mob of loyalists to storm the Capitol and prevent Congress from electing the president. Joseph R. Biden would confirm. Jr. & # 39; s election victory in November.
As they returned to a heavily fortified Capitol, protected by thousands of National Guard troops, Democrats and Republicans exchanged passionate arguments about what would impeach the president and whether there would be an impeachment article accusing the president of "encourage to rebellionTrue.
California speaker Nancy Pelosi summoned the darkest chapters of American history and implored colleagues in both parties to “ embrace a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the republic will be safe from this man so determined is to tear down the things that are dear to us and that keeps us together. "
"He has to go. He's a clear and present danger to the nation we all love," she said, adding later, "I'm not pleased to say this – it breaks my heart."
Representative Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana, who is leaving the House to serve as Mr. Biden's senior assistant, was more succinct: "Simply put, we told you."
Republicans were divided on the impending indictment, with a dozen or more expected to vote to impeach, and Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, said that embracing the attempt as a means of expelling Mr Trump from the party.
California Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House leader, proceeded with caution. He spoke out against impeachment, warning that it would "further fuel the flames of partisan divisions." But he also blamed Mr. Trump for the attack, knocking down false suggestions from some of his colleagues that Antifa was actually responsible for the siege, and not loyalists to Mr. Trump. He suggested censoring the president rather than impeaching him.
"The president is responsible for Wednesday's attack on Congress by rioters," McCarthy said. "He should have denounced the crowd immediately when he saw what was going on."
"These facts require immediate action from President Trump," he continued. & # 39; Accept his share of the responsibility. Stop the brewing unrest. And ensuring that President-elect Biden can successfully begin his term in office. "
It was a striking departure from Mr Trump's first impeachment in 2019, when Republicans unanimously and enthusiastically defended him.
The final vote after the debate is expected to be passed with a small but significant number of Republicans joining the Democrats to impeach Mr. Trump, making him the first president to be impeached twice. A sixth Republican, Washington State Representative Dan Newhouse announced his plans to do so in a speech during the debate.
After canceling two previous, procedural votes just after noon, the chamber scheduled an additional two hours of debate, culminating in an up-or-down vote on the charge.
The most blistering condemnation by a Republican came from Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, No. 3 House Republican, who said there had "never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States."
Mr Trump has shown no sign of remorse, telling reporters on Tuesday that his comments to supporters had been "completely justified" and that it was the specter of his accusation that "caused tremendous anger."
But in a statement intended to ease tensions while the debate was ongoing on Wednesday, he insisted, "There should be NO violence, NO violation of the law and NO vandalism of any kind."
"That's not what I stand for, and it's not what America stands for," said the president. "I urge ALL Americans to ease tensions and calm the mood."
House leaders had already planned to press their charges at a trial in the Senate, but the timing was uncertain because the Senate was not in session.
Mr McConnell's office informed Democrats on Wednesday that he would not agree to their request to use emergency powers to get the Senate back in session before Jan. 19, an assistant said. That probably means that a trial will not start next week at the earliest around the time of Mr Biden's inauguration.
Mr. McConnell is said to have concluded that Mr. Trump committed untouchable transgressions and that the impeachment of the Democrats would help Republicans get rid of Mr. Trump. Addressing news reports about his views, Mr McConnell told Republican colleagues on Wednesday that he had "not yet made a final decision on how I will vote and that I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they get to the Senate to be presented ".