Top Republicans to back impeachment of unrepentant Trump
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US lawmakers appear set to impeach President Donald Trump for an unprecedented second time over post-election violence last week. Several prominent Republicans said they would back the vote, after Vice President Mike Pence rejected calls to remove Trump through executive powers.
The House of Representatives was set to approve a second impeachment vote on Wednesday after Pence on Tuesday declined to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
Representatives voted mostly along party lines in favour of calling on Pence to invoke the amendment that allows him and the cabinet to strip a sitting president of his powers.
“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation,” Pence wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Republicans back impeachment
But with Pence’s rejection out of the way, a vote for impeachment on the charge of “incitement of insurrection” over the 6 January speech in which Trump urged supporters to march on Congress to “fight” the November election result, appeared slated for majority support.
While the Republican-majority Senate appeared unlikely to endorse the vote, several prominent party figures broke ranks or gave colleagues tacit approval to do so.
The New York Times reported Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell privately said he believes Trump has committed impeachable offenses.
Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican the House of Representatives, said party members would not be required to toe the party line on the vote.
Five House Republicans have said they will vote to impeach, including number three Republican Liz Cheney, who called Trump’s actions “a betrayal” of his office.
Trump defends speech
Trump meanwhile refused to take blame for last week’s violence, which saw supporters attacking the Capitol in Washington, fighting police, ransacking offices and briefly disrupting a session certifying Joe Biden’s election victory.
The president urged “peace and calm” during a visit to Alamo, Texas, but said “everybody” thought his speech was “totally appropriate” and dubbed his potential impeachment a “continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics”.
Trump’s social media presence took another hit late Tuesday with YouTube joining Twitter and Facebook in suspending the president’s personal accounts, citing concerns that his videos could incite violence ahead of Biden’s inauguration next week.
Trump has stuck to his baseless claim that the 3 November election was stolen from him and has yet to congratulate Biden, who is to be sworn into office on 20 January.
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