The U.S. House of Representatives began impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump Wednesday morning, with House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern declaring “he must be held to account for the attack and assault on the Capitol that he incited.”
Trump is on the verge of being impeached for a second time in an unprecedented House vote Wednesday, a week after he encouraged a mob of loyalists to “fight like hell” against election results just before they stormed the U.S. Capitol in a deadly siege. A vote is expected Wednesday afternoon.
The House chaplain opened the session with a prayer for “seizing the scales of justice from the jaws of mob-ocracy.”
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 U.S. democracy.
Even some of those hoping to stop the impeachment Wednesday were not exactly defending Trump.
In urging members against impeachment because it would divide America, Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma nonetheless offered no direct defense of the President during early proceedings Wednesday. He called Trump’s words last Wednesday “inappropriate and reckless.” Cole suggested the House seek to censure Trump instead of seeking a second impeachment.
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 Jan. 20.
Trump, who would become the only U.S. president twice impeached, faces a single charge of “incitement of insurrection.”
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 Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, in building its case for high crimes and misdemeanors as demanded in the Constitution.
“If inviting a mob to insurrection against your own government is not an impeachable event, then what is?” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who was a drafter of the article of impeachment.
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.
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. Lawmakers had to scramble for safety and hide as rioters took control of the Capitol and delayed by hours the last step in finalizing Biden’s victory.