Watch live: U.S. House takes up second impeachment of President Donald Trump (6:00 a.m.)

Mike Dorning, Erik Wasson and Billy House |
Bloomberg

The U.S. House prepared to vote on a history-making second
impeachment of Donald Trump as lawmakers seethed over his role
inciting last week’s mob attack on the Capitol and the
president’s once-firm control over the Republican party began to
break down.

Trump’s impeachment appeared inevitable in a vote Democrats
anticipated would come Wednesday, with the resolution’s sponsors
claiming broad support from Democrats and public backing from
several Republicans, including Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House GOP
leader and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The House is set to begin debate shortly after 9 a.m., with the
vote on the impeachment resolution expected by mid-to-late
afternoon, according to House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern. Under
rules in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, members will
vote in staggered groups on the House floor, and some by proxy,
concluding before 5 p.m.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said late Tuesday that the
impeachment article would be quickly sent to the Senate, which
would then hold a trial, instead of holding it back until after the
start of President-elect Joe Biden’s tenure.

“The timing was thrust upon us by the actions of the president
of the United States. The fact that he is leaving should not divert
us from holding accountable behavior which many of us believe is
treasonous behavior and criminal behavior,” Hoyer said on
MSNBC.

Biden’s Nominees

The timing could complicate Biden’s efforts to get cabinet
officials approved by the Senate since lawmakers would be occupied
by an impeachment trial.

But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has raised the
possibility of invoking a 2004 emergency session law to convene a
trial this week, although such a move would require the consent of
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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Regardless of whether he is convicted in the Senate, a second
impeachment would further stain a presidency that has culminated in
a frightening assault on the storied center of the American
democracy. It also opened fissures in the Republican Party that
portends a power struggle over its future.

The New York Times reported that McConnell has told associates
he is privately pleased with the impeachment, calculating that it
will make it easier to purge the party of Trump’s influence.

Numerous Republicans, however, argued that impeaching Trump
would only worsen divisions in the country.

Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina, who was elected in
November, said impeachment “throws gasoline on the fire.”

“Both parties need to take a time out and take a deep
breath” Mace told reporters at the Capitol. “We need to have a
peaceful transition of power and start over.”

Mace was not among the 138 Republicans who voted on Jan. 6 to
reject Biden’s Electoral College win in at least one state even
after the mob seeking to overturn the election had stormed the
building. Many of them also made pleas for unity.

Drawing Away

Much of the corporate establishment that has long financed the
Republican Party has been repulsed by the insurrection. Over the
weekend, blue-chip companies began a torrent of announcements that
they would at least temporarily cut off contributions to lawmakers
who joined Trump in false claims of electoral fraud and the attempt
to block results of the Nov. 3 election.

If McConnell does not agree to a faster timeframe, the soonest
any trial could begin is Jan. 20, Inauguration Day.

Legal scholars are divided on whether Trump can be tried once he
leaves office. Even so, prospects for a conviction remained
uncertain. With a two-thirds vote required, at least 17 Republicans
would have to break with Trump, who still has a fervent following
among GOP voters.

Trump could be legally barred from holding federal office again
if found guilty. He also faces potential criminal and civil legal
jeopardy for encouraging supporters before the Jan. 6 riot in which
five people died and many were injured.

Heightened Anxiety

Lawmakers returned to Washington for the impeachment with rising
anxieties over their security as right-wing activists mobilized on
the internet for potential new attacks. Officials sent out a
reminder Tuesday that lawmakers could be reimbursed for purchasing
bulletproof vests. National Guard troops in combat fatigues stood
along a newly erected 7-foot non-scalable metal fence encircling
the Capitol.

While the smashed windows, broken furniture and other physical
damage has mostly been repaired or removed, psychological wounds
are still raw among lawmakers, their staffs and Capitol Police. One
police officer on duty during the riot died by suicide over the
weekend. Lawmakers have fresh memories of sheltering in locked
committee rooms and basement bunkers for hours while waiting for
help.

The scale of violence has grown clearer as the criminal
investigation proceeds, with law enforcement officials at a press
conference Tuesday describing periods of hand-to-hand combat with
police and organized gangs assaulting media. “People are going to
be shocked with some of the egregious conduct that happened within
the capitol,” the District of Columbia’s acting U.S. attorney,
Michael Sherwin, said, citing video and witness statements not yet
made public.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said during
an Instagram Live on Tuesday night that she thought she was going
to die as the mob roamed the Capitol. “I did not know if I was
going to make it to the end of that day alive — and not just in a
general sense, but also in a very, very specific sense,” she
said.

Trump showed no contrition on the eve of the impeachment vote,
telling reporters as he left the White House Tuesday for a trip to
Texas that he had done nothing wrong and his rhetoric at a rally
before the riot in which he egged on his supporters to the Capitol
was “totally appropriate.” Instead, he condemned Democrats for
an impeachment prosecution that he said is causing “tremendous
anger.”

Vice President Mike Pence Tuesday evening rejected an ultimatum
from the House to join with a cabinet majority to remove Trump from
office under a provision in the U.S. Constitution for unseating a
president no longer capable of serving. A House resolution passed
Tuesday night demanded the step in order to stave off
impeachment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi then appointed nine Democratic
lawmakers led by Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland as
managers of the impeachment prosecution.

One Week Later, Impeachment

The move to punish Trump has been swift, with the impeachment
vote coming just one week after the riot and a sharp contrast with
his last impeachment, over threats to withhold U.S. support for
Ukraine unless its government agreed to demands to open an
investigation to tarnish Bidenat Joe Biden.

No House Republicans voted to impeach Trump in 2019 and he was
acquitted by the Senate in 2020. In addition to Cheney, four other
Republican House members — John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger
of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan and Jaime Herrera Beutler of
Washington, also said Tuesday that they would back impeachment this
time. More are likely to follow.

Trump would become the only president twice impeached by the
House. Only two predecessors, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, have
been impeached and both were acquitted. Richard Nixon resigned
rather than face certain impeachment and conviction in the Senate
over the Watergate scandal.

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Source: FS – All – Interesting – News 2
Watch live: U.S. House takes up second impeachment of
President Donald Trump (6:00 a.m.)