on the hill

Five Republicans break ranks to back impeaching Trump

Only one Republican voted in favor of a resolution calling on Pence to invoke the 25th amendment and remove Trump

House Television via AP

Members of the House of Representatives vote on legislation at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 27, 2020.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a resolution by a nearly party-line vote of 223 to 205 calling on Vice President Mike Pence to remove President Donald Trump from office via the 25th Amendment, ahead of a vote to impeach the president slated for Wednesday. Meanwhile, Republican members of Congress and police clashed over newly enhanced security measures on the House floor.

By the time members began voting around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the resolution on the 25th Amendment had already been rendered essentially pointless. Pence wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) earlier that day telling her he would not follow through with invoking the 25th Amendment. 

Ahead of Wednesday’s impeachment vote, at least five House Republicans — Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Reps. John Katko (R-NY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Fred Upton (R-MI) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) — announced that they will join Democrats to vote in favor of impeachment. Kinzinger was the only Republican to vote in favor of the 25th Amendment resolution.

“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,” said Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, in a statement. “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.”

Cheney’s stunning repudiation of the Republican Party leader came shortly after The New York Times reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had privately expressed support for the impeachment proceedings. McConnell reportedly believes that the president committed impeachable offenses and that impeachment would make it easier to excise Trump from the party.

“The president’s role in this insurrection is undeniable, both on social media on January 6 and in his speech that day. He deliberately promoted baseless theories, creating a combustible environment of misinformation and division,” Katko said on the House floor. “To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequences is a direct threat to the future of this democracy.”

Another group of Trump-skeptical Republicans, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Tom Reed (R-NY), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), John Curtis (R-UT) and Peter Meijer (R-MI), who were also joined by Upton, introduced a resolution to censure Trump.

Fitzpatrick, who wrote the resolution, accused Trump of “attempting to unlawfully overturn the 2020 presidential election” and “violating his oath of office” in a statement. 

Censure of Trump has emerged as a more palatable option for some in the House GOP to rebuke the president but stop short of impeaching him. Pelosi has ruled out such an option, and it is unclear if the Republicans backing the censure resolution will vote to impeach.

Pelosi also announced that Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a leading voice in the impeachment discussions since last Wednesday’s riot, will serve as the House’s lead impeachment manager. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who played a prominent role in the previous impeachment proceedings, will not be a manager this round.

On Tuesday afternoon, House Acting Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett instituted a new policy requiring all members to pass through an airport-style metal detector and submit to a bag search before entering the House chamber, “to ensure compliance with the Capitol Police Board regulations concerning firearms and incendiary devices, as well as to provide a safe and secure environment in which to conduct legislative business.”

The move was instituted after several Republican members of Congress said they were planning to carry guns on the House floor, in violation of congressional rules.

The new regulations created hurdles and delays during voting, as the large majority of representatives set off an alarm when passing through, forcing police to scan them with handheld detector wands.

Multiple Republicans blew past the checkpoints entirely, ignoring Capitol Police officers, and several loudly ranted about the new restrictions. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) yelled that the new measures were “bullshit” and that officers would be better served by guarding the exterior of the building.

During the final vote of the evening, one congressional Democrat lectured a police officer, accusing her of allowing some members to bypass the security measures and rendering them effectively useless. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) loudly berated a fellow member of Congress behind her in line, saying: “If I can do it, you can do it.”

In a particularly notable confrontation, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who has been vocal about her desire to carry a gun on the House floor, initially tried to enter the House through a closed entrance, and subsequently refused to open her bag to officers after setting off the metal detector. After a standoff in the House entryway with officers who initially refused to let her proceed to the floor, Boebert was subsequently allowed to proceed without a bag search.

Some Capitol Police officers also expressed frustration about the measures, with one complaining that the changes were dragging Capitol Police into inter-party conflict.

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