Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican, said Tuesday she will vote to impeach President Donald Trump, as at least three GOP lawmakers will move to charge the president from their own party with high crimes and misdemeanors.
She is the highest-ranking Republican to call for the president’s impeachment in the wake of Wednesday’s deadly Capitol Hill riot, which Trump helped incite with lies and incendiary rhetoric.
Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., earlier said he would support impeachment after the president stirred up a mob that attacked the Capitol last week while Congress counted President-elect Joe Biden’s presidential win. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., later joined Cheney and Katko. The riot left five people, including a Capitol police officer, dead.
In a statement, Cheney said Trump “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 Republican conference chair said. “The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 8, 2019.
Aaron P. Bernstein | Reuters
The House plans to vote Wednesday on whether to charge Trump with high crimes and misdemeanors. Democrats have said they have enough votes to impeach the president for an unprecedented second time.
Once the House impeaches Trump, the Senate will decide whether to convict him. The chamber may not have time to vote to remove him from office before Biden takes office a week from Wednesday.
Even so, conviction in the Senate would prevent Trump from becoming president again.
The House Republicans revealed their stances as the New York Times reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has told associates he thinks Trump committed impeachable acts. The newspaper did not detail whether McConnell would vote to convict the president if the House sends articles of impeachment to the Senate, or whether he would urge Republicans to vote the same way.
More Republicans could join Cheney, Katko and Kinzinger in backing the effort. No House Republicans voted to impeach Trump in 2019 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, breaks from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. The California Republican has opposed impeaching Trump. He and Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., both objected to counting Biden’s certified election victories in Arizona and Pennsylvania after the attack on the Capitol.
Cheney is the daughter of former vice president and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. He joined the nine other living Pentagon chiefs earlier this month in warning against involving the military in disputes over election results. The Washington Post op-ed came three days before the Capitol attack.
Trump earlier said Democrats’ push to impeach him was dangerous and could spark more violence. Some of his Republican allies have argued the effort would hinder attempts to reduce tensions in the country.
Impeachment supporters have said Congress should not move on until they hold Trump accountable for his supporters’ attempt to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.
The impeachment article Democratic leaders have appeared to back, titled “Incitement of Insurrection,” accuses Trump of committing high crimes and misdemeanors by encouraging an attack on a coequal branch of government. It says the president, by lying to his supporters about the election results for two months and then encouraging them to fight the outcome shortly before the invasion of the Capitol, helped to spur the riot.
With days to go before Trump leaves office, the House rushed through the traditional process to bring impeachment to a swift vote in the full chamber. In a Tuesday report supporting the impeachment measure, House Judiciary Committee staff wrote that Trump “repeatedly sought to overturn the results of the election” and “continued a parallel course of conduct that foreseeably resulted in the imminent lawless actions of his supporters.”
The report goes on to say: “President Trump committed a high Crime and Misdemeanor against the Nation by inciting an insurrection at the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential Election. The facts establish that he is unfit to remain in office a single day longer and warrant the immediate impeachment of President Trump.”