Republican opposition to impeaching US President Donald Trump began crumbling at the party’s upper echelons on Tuesday as the No. 3 House of Representatives Republican leader said she would vote to impeach Trump.
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the constitution,” US Representative Liz Cheney said in a statement that, while not unexpected, shook the US Congress as lawmakers prepared for last night’s House vote.
With Democrats commanding that chamber, a vote impeaching Trump for an unprecedented second time seemed certain.
More ominously for a president clinging to his final week in office, the New York Times reported that influential US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks Trump committed an impeachable offense and is glad Democrats are moving against him.
Citing unidentified people familiar with the influential Kentucky Republican’s thinking, the Times reported McConnell believes moving against Trump will help the Republican Party forge a future independent of the divisive, chaotic president.
McConnell thinks Trump’s behavior before last week’s assault on the Capitol by fuming Trump supporters cost Republicans their Senate majority in two Georgia runoff elections, the newspaper reported.
That is a sentiment shared by many Republicans about Trump, who rather than focusing on bolstering Georgia’s two sitting senators spent the last weeks of their campaign reciting his false narrative that his own re-election was ruined by Democratic election fraud.
McConnell is said to be angry at the president over the insurrection at the Capitol and the twin defeats in Georgia that cost the party its Senate majority, according to a Republican granted anonymity to discuss the situation.
Cheney, daughter of former US vice president Dick Cheney, has run afoul of Trump and far-right Republicans over the years on issues like wearing a mask and withdrawing troops from Syria.
She is respected by mainstream conservatives and is one of the Republican’s few House female stars.
“Good for her for honoring her oath of office,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, told reporters when asked about Liz Cheney’s decision. “Would that more Republicans would honor their oaths of office.”
Lawmakers’ oath includes a vow to defend the US constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
US representatives Adam Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran, and John Katko, a former federal prosecutor, became the first rank-and-file Republican lawmakers to say they would vote to impeach Trump.
Later joining the faction were representatives Fred Upton and Jaime Herrera Beutler.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the president of the United States broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection,” Kinzinger said in a statement about Trump, whom he has repeatedly criticized over the years.
Trump might not have helped himself on Tuesday. In his first public appearance since the attack on the Capitol, he took no responsibility for his role in egging on his supporters and added falsely: “People thought that what I said was totally appropriate.”
Trump had flown to Alamo, Texas, to stand next to a section of new border wall and deliver a 22-minute speech, in which he warned of further unrest if Congress dares to impeach him.
He also declared himself invulnerable to removal by US Vice President Mike Pence and his Cabinet under the 25th Amendment to the constitution.
“The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me, but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration,” Trump said. “As the expression goes, be careful of what you wish for.”
In other developments on Tuesday, YouTube suspended Trump’s channel for at least a week amid concerns over “ongoing potential for violence.”
The Google-owned platform said it removed content that was uploaded on Tuesday from the Donald J. Trump channel for inciting violence, although it was not immediately clear which videos in question were in breech.
Under the suspension, Trump’s channel is temporarily prevented from uploading new videos or live streams for at least seven days, although the channel remains live, YouTube said.
Comments would be indefinitely disabled on the channel, YouTube said.
Under YouTube’s policies, a second strike would result in a two-week suspension, while a third strike would get the account banned permanently.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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