WASHINGTON — Ahead of a House vote Tuesday calling for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office, a growing number of Republicans are backing impeaching the president with roughly one week left in his term.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., a member of GOP leadership, announced Tuesday night she will vote to impeach the 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 in a statement.
“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. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not.”
Just minutes earlier, Rep. John Katko, of New York, became the first Republican House member to publicly back impeaching Trump.
The growing support for impeaching Trump comes as the president continues to be heavily criticized for the remarks he made last week that incited a crowd of his supporters to violently storm the U.S. Capitol while President-elect Joe Biden’s victory was being certified.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., has also said he would support an effort to remove Trump from office, although he has not specifically said he would vote for impeachment.
No House Republican voted to impeach Trump during the inquiry earlier in his term that resulted in a Senate acquittal. No U.S. president has ever been impeached twice.
The House is expected to vote on the 25th Amendment measure around 10:30 p.m. ET, according to a schedule released by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
Pence, however, is unlikely to remove Trump from office. As of Monday morning, multiple sources said that Pence was not inclined to sign on to invoking the 25th Amendment, and is instead waiting to run out the clock so he can make it to Jan. 20 “in one piece.”
Assuming that Pence will ignore the House’s request, the House is planning to vote Wednesday on an article of impeachment that would charge Trump with “incitement of insurrection” in urging his supporters to march to the Capitol. The Senate would then hold a trial to decide whether to convict Trump and potentially eliminate his ability to run for office again.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that if the House’s 25th Amendment resolution passes, as is expected, Pence will have 24 hours to respond.
The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., calls on Pence to “convene and mobilize” Trump’s Cabinet to activate the 25th Amendment to declare the president “incapable of executing the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as acting President.”
Spurred on by last Wednesday’s events at the Capitol, the six-page resolution says that the mob “threatened the safety and lives of the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and the President pro tempore of the Senate, the first three individuals in the line of succession to the presidency, as the rioters were recorded chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence’ and ‘Where’s Nancy’ when Trump tweeted to his supporters that ‘”Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country.”
The measure lays out evidence that Trump incited his supporters to commit violence at the Capitol and says that the president has “demonstrated repeatedly, continuously and spectacularly his absolute inability to discharge the most basic and fundamental powers and duties of his office.” It says that Trump didn’t respect the results of the 2020 presidential election, isn’t respecting the peaceful transfer of power, isn’t upholding the Constitution and has failed to protect Americans.
Trump on Tuesday defended the remarks he made last week.
Asked by reporters whether he held any “personal responsibility” over the riot at the Capitol, Trump replied, “If you read my speech, and many people have done it and I’ve seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television, it’s been analyzed and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.”
“Everybody to a ‘T’ thought it was totally appropriate,” Trump said.
Trump’s comments came six days after riots in and around the Capitol by his supporters left five people dead and many others injured — shaking American democracy to its core in the process.
Trump encouraged his crowd of supporters last Wednesday at a rally outside the White House to march to the Capitol and said: “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”
Trump was slow to respond after his supporters stormed the building, and eventually sent out a pair of tweets calling for peaceful protest while also repeating his false claims about the election being stolen and telling the rioters he loved them.
Trump’s role in the riots has been widely condemned by lawmakers in both parties. He was also banned from Twitter and other platforms for using them to incite his supporters — suspensions that the president on Tuesday blasted as “a terrible mistake” by “big tech.”
He then predicted the bans were creating “such anger,” before quickly noting, “always have to avoid violence”
“There’s always a counter move when they do that. I’ve never seen such anger as I see right now, and that’s a terrible thing,” he said. “We have tremendous support. We have support probably like nobody has ever seen before,” he added, before saying, “always have to avoid violence.”
Kristen Welker and Peter Alexander contributed.
Rep. Cheney, No. 3 House Republican, backs impeachment The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ NBC News.