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Republican impeachment support grows as House urges Pence to remove Trump from office

The vice president rebuffed calls for him to invoke the 25th Amendment, setting up a Wednesday impeachment vote.
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WASHINGTON — A growing number of Republican lawmakers publicly endorsed impeaching President Donald Trump ahead of a Wednesday vote in the House as the chamber passed a symbolic measure on Tuesday calling on Vice President Mike Pence to remove him first.

Pence, who was one of the targets of the violent mob that attacked the Capitol last week, declined to use the 25th Amendment to force Trump out of office days before his term expires.

The resolution calling on Pence to act passed the House 223 to 205, largely along partisan lines. One Republican voted for the measure. More Republicans have backed impeachment than supported the resolution.

"The facts are very clear: The president called for this seditious attack," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Tuesday on the House floor ahead of the vote. "I encourage my Republican colleagues to open their eyes and hold this president accountable."

The House can't force Pence to remove Trump, and now is expected to move forward with a vote on an article of impeachment on Wednesday for “incitement of insurrection” after Trump encouraged a crowd of his supporters in a speech last week to violently storm the U.S. Capitol while President-elect Joe Biden's victory was being certified.

The article of impeachment is expected to pass in the Democratic-controlled House, which would make Trump the first president in U.S.history to be impeached twice.

A growing number of Republicans announced Tuesday night that they would join Democrats in voting in favor of impeaching Trump.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., a member of GOP leadership, said she will vote to impeach the president, writing in a statement that there “has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

"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. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not," she added.

Republican Reps. John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington also said Tuesday they would vote to impeach Trump. Kinzinger was the sole Republican to vote for the 25th Amendment resolution.

The House is expected to vote around 3 p.m. ET Wednesday. The top House Republican, Kevin McCarthy of California, has said he opposes impeachment.

No House Republican voted to impeach Trump during the inquiry earlier in his term that resulted in a Senate acquittal.

Some lawmakers think that impeachment is certain to result in a second acquittal in the Senate and will only distract from Biden's first few days in office. Some also worry that another impeachment trial would further divide the country.

A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers are backing a resolution to censure Trump, which would not remove him from office or bar him from running for office again, as would be the case with the article of impeachment.

"Trump’s attempts to undermine the outcome of the 2020 election have been unconscionable,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., who introduced a concurrent resolution to censure the president.

"His actions threatened the integrity of our democracy, Congress, and his own Vice President. For months, President Trump has been lying to the American people with false information, and giving his supporters false expectations. The election is over."

Pence had not been expected to invoke the 25th Amendment, writing in a letter to Pelosi Tuesday night ahead of the vote that he did not think it was “in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution.”

"I urge you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame passions of the moment,” Pence added.

Pelosi had been prepared to move ahead quickly with impeachment if Pence did not respond favorably to the House resolution.

On Tuesday night Pelosi announced that Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland would be the lead impeachment manager, joined by Reps. Diana DeGette and Joe Neguse of Colorado, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Joaquin Castro of Texas, Eric Swalwell and Ted Lieu of California, Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands and Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania.

Lawmakers are trying to remove Trump from office only days before his term expires because of his role in the violent riot. At a rally blocks away, Trump repeated baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him and then told his supporters to march to the Capitol, saying: "You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong."

Trump was reportedly hesitant to send in additional law enforcement as the violent mob breached the Capitol building and took control of the complex, terrorizing lawmakers as they hunkered down in secure shelters until police officers regained control of the building.

Five people died in the riot: one woman died after being shot by police inside the Capitol, one police officer died due to injuries sustained defending the building and three other Trump supporters died due to medical emergencies.

Dozens of officers were also beaten and injured.

Trump's role in the violent riot has been widely condemned by lawmakers in both parties. He was also banned from Twitter and other platforms for using the technology to incite his supporters.