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First House Republicans back Trump impeachment: ‘He summoned this mob’

Liz Cheney and John Katko, one a congressman from New York, the other a representative from Wyoming, have become the first Republicans in the House of Representatives to publicly support the impeachment of Donald Trump.

Ahead of a vote called in the House by Democrats seeking to impeach the president for the second time, Ms Cheney, the daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, issued a scorching rebuke of Mr Trump, accusing him of encouraging what many have termed “an insurrection” against legislators at the Capitol last week.

“[He] summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” she said in a statement. 

“There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the constitution." 

She added: “I will vote to impeach the president.”

Meanwhile, Mr Kato,  the 58-year-old congressman, who represents New York’s 24th congressional district, said that to allow Mr Trump to have incited last week’s attack on the Capitol without him being held to account, would represent a “direct threat to the future of our democracy”. 

“For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action,” he said. “I will vote to impeach this president.”

Democrats are expected to vote on a measure on Tuesday calling for Mr Trump to be removed from office by use of the 25th amendment of the constitution.

So far, vice president Mike Pence and Mr Trump’s cabinet have not indicated any interest in pursuing such a measure, which would be necessary for such a move to proceed.

Instead, Democrats will seek to vote on Wednesday to impeach Mr Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection”. He would be the first president to be impeached twice.

Republicans in the House, in what was seen as a break with the president, did not lobby members to oppose Wednesday’s measure, which is all but certain to pass because Democrats have a majority.

Just how many members of the lower chamber will support the measure remains unclear. But Ms Cheney’s voice will carry some weight; as House Republican Conference chair, the 54-year-old is the third most senior member of the GOP in the House. She is also the most senior Republican woman in the lower chamber.

“On January 6, 2021 a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes. This insurrection caused injury, death and destruction in the most sacred space in our Republic,” she said.

“Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough. The president of the United States 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.”

Most observers believe it unlikely the Senate will make time to take up any measure passed by the House.

Yet, on Tuesday, in another step that appeared to bear problems for the president, senator Mitch McConnell, still the Senate majority leader, let it be known he supported the moves against Mr Trump.

The New York Times said Mr McConnell, accused of many of supporting Mr Trump’s worst excesses and failing to stand up to him, told associates he believed the president had committed impeachable offenses.

It said he was pleased Democrats were moving to impeach him, as he believed it would make it easier to purge him from the party.

Mr Trump has continued to show no contrition or regret for what happened.

Speaking as he left the White House to head to Texas to visit a section of the border wall with Mexico, he said his speech last week to supporters had been “totally appropriate”.

“I think it's [the impeachment procedure] causing tremendous danger to our country and it's causing tremendous anger,” Mr Trump said. “I want no violence.”

By: Andrew Buncombe

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