Donald Trump visits a section of his Wall with Mexico in Alamo, Texas, January 12, 2021 (Doug Mills/New York Times)
UPDATE, JAN 14:
The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, has said that the trial of Donald Trump over “inciting violence against Government of US”.
McConnell issued a statement, after the House voted by 232-197 on Wednesday afternoon to impeach Trump, that “simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude”.
He continued, “I believe it will best serve our nation if Congress and the executive branch spend the next seven days completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden Administration.”
But McConnell indicated that he will consider conviction of Trump: “[I have] not made a final decision on how I will vote, and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate.”
My full statement on the next seven days and the Senate schedule: pic.twitter.com/Nh5z3f79yq
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) January 13, 2021
A McConnell vote to convict could signal other Republicans to follow. With a 50-50 Senate and a 2/3rds majority required for conviction, 17 GOP Senators would have to join all Democrats.
As Senate Majority Leader, McConnell protected Trump for almost four years, including during the Trump-Russia affair and the January 2020 impeachment trial over Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to spread disinformation against Joe Biden during the 2020 Presidential campaign.
UPDATE, 1130 GMT:
“Multiple sources” tell CNN that the relationship between Donald Trump and the Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell has collapsed.
One source said McConnell “hates” Trump over the response last week to the Capitol Attack.
The two men have not spoken to each other and have not had a meeting since mid-December. When Trump threatened to veto a $900 billion interim Coronavirus relief measure in late December, McConnell could not get him to answer the phone, said another source.
McConnell has since told associates that he will not talk to Trump again.
Sources said McConnell is now speaking with President-elect Joe Biden about the conduct of an impeachment trial in the Senate.
UPDATE, 0915 GMT:
Two officials “briefed on the conversation” reveal the extent of Donald Trump’s pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election of President-elect Joe Biden. Just before Pence went to Wednesday’s Congressional session to confirm the Electoral College result, Trump called him:
You can either go down in history as a patriot, or you can go down in history as a pussy.
Pence refused to intervene in the Congressional certification, and Trump urged his supporters to march on the Capitol to block the process.
The session was suspended as the pro-Trump mob attacked. The Vice President huddled in lockdown with legislators. Trump never called to check on his safety — instead, he tweeted an insult about Pence’s failure to follow his directive.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, is telling associates that Donald Trump has committed impeachable offenses.
For almost four years McConnell, as Senate Majority Leader, protected and enabled Trump. He ensured that Trump was not removed from office over the Trump campaign’s connections with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign or evidence of Trump’s obstruction of justice on multiple occasions. When Trump was impeached for his pressure on Ukraine to smear Joe Biden, now President-elect, McConnell organized GOP Senators so there was no conviction in January 2020.
But “people familiar with McConnell’s thinking” said on Tuesday that the Republican leader believes that impeachment will make it easier to purge Trump from a party split between its establishment faction and Trumpists.
The sources did not say if McConnell will permit a trial before January 20, when Trump’s term ends, if the House completes impeachment on the charge of “inciting violence against the Government” over Trump’s encouragement of the Capitol attack last Wednesday.
McConnell had indicated that he would not enable a trial, saying it would require unanimous consent from all 100 Senators.
5 GOP Representatives Say Yes to Impeachment
Five Republican Representatives said on Tuesday that they will vote to impeach Trump, joining 214 Democrats who endorsed the article of incitement of violence.
Among them is Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the GOP’s third-ranking House member. She said in a statement:
The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.
The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not.”
The other Republicans who publicly declared their intention to vote Yes are Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, John Katko of New York, Fred Upton of Michigan, and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington.
“To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko said.
By deliberately promoting baseless theories suggesting the election was somehow stolen, the president created a combustible environment of misinformation, disenfranchisement and division. When this manifested in violent acts on Jan. 6, he refused to promptly and forcefully call it off, putting countless lives in danger.
Kinzinger, who was the 1st GOP Representative to call for Trump’s departure, said that if Trump’s actions “are not worthy of impeachment, then what is an impeachable offense?”
Their support assures a House majority for impeachment, with at least 219 votes in the 435-member chamber. There are currently 222 Democrats and 211 Republican Representatives, with two seats vacant.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has held out against impeachment, is asking GOP colleagues if he should call on Trump, according to “three Republican officials briefed on the conversations”.
House Votes for 25th Amendment, Pence Rejects
The House voted 223-205 on Tuesday night to call on Vice President Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
The resolution asked Pence and the Cabinet to declare “incapable of executing the duties of his office” and the Vice President “to immediately exercise powers as acting President”.
Pence had already rejected the step, writing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday:
I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution. I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our nation.
The House will now move to impeach Trump as early as Wednesday.
In his first public appearance since he called on his supporters to march on the Capitol, blocking Congressional certification of President-elect Biden’s Electoral College victory, Trump told reporters that his remarks had been “totally appropriate”. He insisted that it is the prospect of impeachment, rather than the Capitol assault, “causing tremendous anger”.
Trump then travelled to Texas to pose in front of the small section of his Wall with Mexico.
FBI and Justice Department official said more than 160 case files opened over the Capitol attack, with more than 70 people arrested.
Michael Sherwin, the Acting US Attorney in Washington DC, said suspects face a “mind-blowing” range of charges, including felony murder, sedition, and conspiracy.