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Highlights and analysis: House passes resolution to demand Pence invoke 25th Amendment, remove Trump

Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday night told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter that he does not believe invoking the 25th Amendment "is in the best interest of our nation."
Image: illustration of President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a red background that shows the Capitol exterior, with navy bubbles showing words like \"Impeachment,\" \"Congress,\" \"President\"
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The House approved a resolution on a late Tuesday night to encourage Vice President Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office before his term ends on Jan. 20, a largely symbolic gesture that precedes a vote on impeachment Wednesday.

Pence said earlier Tuesday evening that he will not heed these calls.

Then, on Wednesday morning, House Democrats are planning to take up an article of impeachment against Trump for "incitement of insurrection" in urging his supporters to march on the Capitol last week.

The planned votes come as the FBI sent a warning to law enforcement agencies across the country about possible armed protests at all 50 state Capitols starting Saturday as well the threat of an uprising in Washington that day if Congress removes Trump.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading news on the response to the Capitol riot from Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

Read the highlights:

— At least five Republican House members have said they will vote to impeach Trump.

— Pence said Tuesday evening in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that he does not believe invoking the 25th Amendment "is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution."

— Trump enters final week as president with few allies, no Twitter and an impeachment effort.

— What we know about the people arrested after the Capitol riots.

— After Capitol violence, Trump brand partners eye dumping toxic asset: the president.

Pence says invoking the 25th Amendment not 'in the best interest of our nation'

Hours ahead of a House vote on a resolution calling on him to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office, Vice President Mike Pence said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that he does not believe doing so "is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution."

"Last week, I did not yield to pressure to exert power beyond my constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election, and I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our nation."

Pence said the 25th Amendment was designed to be used only in the event of presidential incapacity or disability.

"Under our Constitution, the 25th Amendment is not a means of punishment or usurpation," he said. "Invoking the 25th Amendment in such a manner would set a terrible precedent."

Pence said the Trump administration is focusing its energy on "ensuring an orderly transition," saying, "now is the time to heal."

"I urge you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment," he said as the House considers impeachment. "Work with us to lower the temperature and unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. I pledge to you that will continue to do my part to work in good faith with the incoming administration to ensure an orderly transition of power. So help me God."

The House is expected to vote on the 25th Amendment resolution around 10:30 pm. ET. Pelosi said that, if passed, Pence has 24 hours to respond. But with Pence saying he will not invoke the measure, the House plans to vote Wednesday on an article of impeachment charging Trump with "incitement of insurrection" for his role in Wednesday's riot.

If passed, a Senate trial would then have to take place to decide whether to convict Trump and possibly bar him from seeking elected office again.

GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene erupts at media in Capitol, calls them 'liars'

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., erupted at reporters on Tuesday as she was entering the Capitol building, calling them "liars."

As she was going through the magnetometer, she thanked the officers who were working but erupted when photographers began snapping photos, according to a press pool report. She then started yelling and asking what the journalists were reporting on and also where they were when people “burned buildings and looted... do you guys remember that?" she asked, an apparent reference to civil unrest this past summer.

Last week, during the violent Capitol riot that resulted in the deaths of five people, Trump supporters hurled death threats at reporters and trashed the equipment of some journalists. There was also an instance where a rioter made a noose out of the cord of a reporter's equipment. 

Taylor Greene, a businesswoman who has expressed support for the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon and been criticized for a series of racist comments, won her seat this past November. She is a Trump loyalist, who has repeatedly refused to wear a mask in the Capitol building and on the floor.

The lawmaker, who was wearing a mask in this instance, continued grumbling and insulting the photographers as she went through an additional layer of security. 

"Y’all are the best, y’all are great," she said, referring to the police. "All the media and all the liars and them, they’re not great.”

 

 

McConnell said to be pleased by movement to impeach Trump over insurrection, report says

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has told associates he is pleased Democrats are moving to impeach President Donald Trump for his role in Wednesday's riot at the Capitol, The New York Times reported.

The Times added that McConnell has told these associates that he believes Trump has committed impeachable offenses and that impeaching him will make it easier to rid the GOP of Trump, people familiar with his thinking told the publication.

NBC News has not yet confirmed McConnell's thinking on the matter.

So far, a handful of House Republicans have announced support for Trump's impeachment, which will be voted on there Wednesday night. Among them is Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo, who is the third-highest ranking House Republican.

Harris on impeachment: 'Congress is going to make its decision'

In her first comments about the growing calls for a second impeachment trial for President Trump, Vice President-elect Harris said, “the Congress is going to make its decision."

"As an incoming administration, our first priority has to be to get control of this pandemic and get people back to work and get kids back to school, and that's our focus," she told CBS news.

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger will vote to impeach Trump, citing Capitol riot

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.,  said Tuesday he supports impeaching President Trump over his role in inciting last week's deadly riot at the Capitol.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the President of the United States broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection," Kinzinger, who previously supported invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, said. "He used his position in the Executive to attack the Legislative. So in assessing the articles of impeachment brought before the House, I must consider: if these actions--the Article II branch inciting a deadly insurrection against the Article I branch--are not worthy of impeachment, then what is an impeachable offense?

He added, “I will vote in favor of impeachment.”

Kinzinger joins a steadily growing list of Republicans coming out in support of impeaching the president the week before President-elect Joe Biden is set to be sworn in. Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and John Katko of New York also support impeaching the president. 

Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, says she will vote to impeach Trump

Rep. Liz Cheney added her name to a short but growing list of Republicans denouncing President Trump and supporting his impeachment or removal from office after last week's violent siege at the U.S. Capitol. 

"This insurrection caused injury, death and destruction in the most sacred space in our Republic," Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, said. 

"Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough," she continued. "The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack."

Cheney, a frequent critic of Trump and his rhetoric, added, "There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution. I will vote to impeach the President."

Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., also announced on Tuesday that will vote to impeach Trump. Last week, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., became the first Republican to say the 25th Amendment should be invoked to remove Trump from office. 

Armed DHS agents were on standby near Capitol riot but weren't deployed till too late

As a violent mob of Trump supporters outnumbered Capitol Police and stormed the Capitol, approximately 50 uniformed, armed personnel from the Department of Homeland Security stood inside a federal building just down the street waiting on a call to be deployed, according to two current DHS officials and one former DHS official.

But while the violence escalated, the call to deploy to the Capitol did not come in time to help.

“They just stayed there the entire time, waiting,” the former official familiar with the events told NBC News.

The roughly 50 DHS personnel, all from various parts of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, were waiting in a staging area inside the Ronald Reagan Building, just 13 blocks from the Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Read the story.

'Sedition and insurrection': Joint Chiefs of Staff condemn Capitol riot

The Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday condemned last week's riot at the Capitol, calling it a "direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building and our constitutional process" in a memo to the U.S. armed forces.

"We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law," the eight military leaders led by Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman, said. "The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection."

"As service members, we must embody the values of the nation," they continued. "We support and defend the Constitution. Any act to disrupt the constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values, and oath; it is against the law."

The joint chiefs added that President-elect Joe Biden "will be inaugurated" on Jan. 20 "and will become our 46th" president, noting that his electoral victory has been "confirmed by the states and the courts."

GOP Rep. John Katko says he will vote to impeach Trump

Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., announced on Tuesday that will vote to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting a violent riot last week at the U.S. Capitol — becoming the first Republican to support the move. 

Katko said he felt compelled to hold Trump accountable, according to his statement. “To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” he said. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action. I will vote to impeach this president.

Syracuse.com was first to report Katko's position.

Last week, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., became the first Republican to say that he believes the 25th Amendment should be invoked to remove Trump from office. 

The House is expected to vote on an impeachment resolution Wednesday, a week before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.  More than 200 Democratic members support the impeachment resolution. In his first remarks to reporters since the riot at the Capitol, which left five dead, Trump criticized Democrats on Tuesday for their plans to move forward with impeachment and urged his supporters not to engage in violence. 

'Mind-blowing' number of crimes committed during Capitol riot, 160 case files opened, say officials

FBI agents are scouring more than 100,000 digital media files, and federal prosecutors have spent hours presenting felony cases to a Washington, D.C. grand jury, as they seek to bring to justice those who committed crimes in the riot at the Capitol, authorities said Tuesday.

In a telephone briefing with reporters, Acting D.C. U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin and Steven D'Antuono, head of the FBI's Washington field office, discussed the sprawling criminal investigation designed to catch those who broke the law, but said little about the intelligence and security failures that allowed the Capitol to be overrun.

They said the FBI had opened 160 case files, and "this is only the beginning," as Sherwin put it, outlining a large number of serious crimes at issue that carry decades-long prison terms The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are investigating, for example, who put two pipe bombs outside the Capitol with timers and detonators.

Sherwin said the diversity of criminal conduct being examined is "mind blowing," including everything from trespassing, theft of mail, and assaults on officers to theft of national security information, civil rights crimes and felony murder.

Read the story.