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.
Cheney, a conservative member of the party and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, could lead other Republicans weighing voting for impeachment to break from the president.
“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,” she added.
The House is planning to vote Wednesday on an article of impeachment that would charge Trump with “incitement of insurrection.” No U.S. president has ever been impeached twice.
The impeachment measure is expected to quickly follow Tuesday night’s vote by the House urging Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment.
“The facts are very clear: the president called for this seditious attack,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Tuesday on the House floor ahead of the vote on the 25th Amendment resolution. “I encourage my Republican colleagues to open their eyes and hold this president accountable.”
Pence sent Pelosi a letter late Tuesday indicating he will not invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump.
“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” Pence wrote in the letter. “I urge you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame passions of the moment.”
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., who said last week he would support an effort to remove Trump from office, confirmed Tuesday night that he, too, would vote in favor of impeachment, writing in a statement that Trump “broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection.”
Still, some lawmakers feel that impeachment is certain to result in a second acquittal and will only distract from Biden’s first few days in office. Some also worry that another impeachment trial would further divide the country.
A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers are backing a resolution to censure Trump, which would not remove him from office.
“Trump’s attempts to undermine the outcome of the 2020 election have been unconscionable, said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., who introduced a concurrent resolution to censure the president.
“His actions threatened the integrity of our democracy, Congress, and his own Vice President. For months, President Trump has been lying to the American people with false information, and giving his supporters false expectations. The election is over.”
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.