LAWMAKERS adopted a resolution that would compel Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment after President Trump incited a mob attack on the Capitol last week.
In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier in the evening, Mr. Pence rejected the effort.
The House voted on Tuesday night to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment to strip President Trump of his powers after he incited a mob that attacked the Capitol, as lawmakers warned they would impeach the president on Wednesday if Mr. Pence did not comply.
Lawmakers, escorted by armed guards into a heavily fortified Capitol, adopted the nonbinding measure just before midnight largely along party lines. The final vote was 223 to 205 to implore Mr. Pence to declare Mr. Trump “incapable of executing the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as acting president.”
“We’re trying to tell him that the time of a 25th Amendment emergency has arrived,” Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and the author of the resolution, said before the vote. “It has come to our doorstep. It has invaded our chamber.”
Only one Republican, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, voted in favor of the resolution.
The House proceeded even after Mr. Pence rejected the call in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday. “I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution,” he wrote. “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.”
Almost all Republicans lined up in opposition. They did little to defend Mr. Trump’s behavior but argued that Congress had no role telling the vice president what to do.
“The vice president has given you your answer, before you asked the question,” said Representative Dan Bishop, Republican of North Carolina. “Your ultimatum does violence to a core feature of the architecture of the Constitution.”
Mr. Trump met with Mr. Pence on Monday for the first time since their falling out last week over the president’s effort to overturn the election and the mob assault, which had put the vice president in danger. The two spoke for an hour or more in the Oval Office in what amounted to a tense peace summit meeting with the remainder of the Trump presidency at stake.
Vice President Mike Pence late Tuesday rejected the possibility of stripping President Trump of his powers through the 25th Amendment, rebuking a resolution in the House calling on the vice president to do so.
“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution,” Mr. Pence wrote in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“I urge you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment.”
Mr. Pence privately indicated last week that he did not support invoking the 25th Amendment, and his public rejection of the resolution all but ensured that the House would vote to impeach Mr. Trump on Wednesday.
“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,” the vice president wrote.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party, according to people familiar with his thinking. The House is voting on Wednesday to formally charge Mr. Trump with inciting violence against the country.
At the same time, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader and one of Mr. Trump’s most steadfast allies in Congress, has asked other Republicans whether he should call on Mr. Trump to resign in the aftermath of the riot at the Capitol last week, according to three Republican officials briefed on the conversations.
While Mr. McCarthy has said he is personally opposed to impeachment, he and other party leaders have decided not to formally lobby Republicans to vote “no,” and an aide to Mr. McCarthy said he was open to a measure censuring Mr. Trump for his conduct. In private, Mr. McCarthy reached out to a leading House Democrat to see if the chamber would be willing to pursue a censure vote, though Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ruled it out.
Taken together, the stances of Congress’s two top Republicans — neither of whom has said publicly that Mr. Trump should resign or be impeached — reflected the politically challenging and fast-moving nature of the crisis that the party faces after the assault by a pro-Trump mob during a session to formalize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s electoral victory.
As more violent images from the mayhem wrought by the rioters emerged on Tuesday, including of the brutal attack that ultimately killed a Capitol Police officer, and as lawmakers were briefed about threats of more attacks on the Capitol, rank-and-file Republican lawmakers grew angrier about the president’s role in the violence.
Yet as they tried to balance the affection their core voters have for Mr. Trump with the now undeniable political and constitutional threat he posed, Republican congressional leaders who have loyally backed the president for four years were still stepping delicately. Their refusal to demand the president’s resignation and quiet plotting about how to address his conduct highlighted the gnawing uncertainty that they and many other Republicans have about whether they would pay more of a political price for abandoning him or for continuing to enable him after he incited a mob to storm the seat of government.
Making their task more difficult, Mr. Trump has shown no trace of contrition, telling reporters on Tuesday that his remarks to supporters had been “totally appropriate,” and that it was the specter of his impeachment that was “causing tremendous anger.”
Mr. McConnell has indicated that he wants to see the specific article of impeachment that the House is set to approve on Wednesday, and hear the eventual arguments in the Senate. The House is expected to pass the single charge on Wednesday, and a senior administration official said the White House expects about two dozen Republicans to support it. Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the party’s No. 3 in the House, announced on Tuesday that she would be among them.
But the Senate Republican leader has made clear in private discussions that he believes now is the moment to move on from the weakened lame duck, whom he blames for causing Republicans to lose the Senate. Mr. McConnell has not spoken to Mr. Trump since mid-December, when the senator told the president that he would be recognizing Mr. Biden as president-elect after the Electoral College certified Mr. Biden’s victory.
On Monday, Mr. Biden telephoned Mr. McConnell to ask whether it was possible to set up a dual track that would allow the Senate to confirm Mr. Biden’s cabinet nominees and hold a Senate trial at the same time, according to officials briefed on the conversation who disclosed it on condition of anonymity. Far from avoiding the topic of impeaching Mr. Trump, Mr. McConnell said it was a question for the Senate parliamentarian, and promised Mr. Biden a quick answer.
David Popp, a spokesman for Mr. McConnell, declined to comment, pointing a reporter to a speech the senator made from the floor after the attack on the Capitol.
“This failed attempt to obstruct the Congress, this failed insurrection, only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our Republic,” Mr. McConnell said as the Senate reconvened on Wednesday to finish the electoral count disrupted by the siege. “Our nation was founded precisely so that the free choice of the American people is what shapes our self-government and determines the destiny of our nation.”
In the days since the attack, Mr. McCarthy has veered from asking Republican colleagues if he should call on Mr. Trump to resign to privately floating impeachment to his current posture, opposed to impeachment but open to a censure. He even approached Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, about a censure vote, saying he could deliver a large number of Republican votes for a formal rebuke if Democrats backed off impeachment.
Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican, announced on Tuesday that she would vote to impeach President Trump, saying there had “never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States” than Mr. Trump’s incitement of a mob that attacked the Capitol last week.
In a stinging statement that drove a fissure through her party, Ms. Cheney dismissed fellow Republicans arguing that the impeachment was rushed, premature or unwarranted. Her words were unequivocal and likely to give cover to two dozen or so other House Republicans looking to break ranks and join an effort that was also said to have the tacit support of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.
“Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough,” said Ms. Cheney, the scion of a storied Republican political family. “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.”
She added: “The president could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not.”
Ms. Cheney’s announcement came a short time after Representative John Katko of New York became the first House Republican to commit to voting to impeach.
“To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Mr. Katko said in a statement to Syracuse.com. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action. I will vote to impeach this president.”
Representatives Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, all Republicans, followed them.
If Mr. Trump’s actions “are not worthy of impeachment, then what is an impeachable offense?” Mr. Kinzinger said in a statement.
“The president’s offenses, in my reading of the Constitution, were impeachable based on the indisputable evidence we already have,” Ms. Herrera Beutler said in a statement.
House Republican leaders have decided not to formally lobby members of the party against voting to impeach Mr. Trump, making an implicit break with him as they scrambled to gauge support within their ranks for a vote on Wednesday to charge him with inciting violence against the country.
Not a single Republican voted in favor of impeachment during the 2019 proceedings.
This time, Mr. Trump’s encouragement of the mob “cannot be ignored,” said Mr. Katko, a moderate who represents a district in upstate New York that voted for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
“By deliberately promoting baseless theories suggesting the election was somehow stolen, the president created a combustible environment of misinformation, disenfranchisement and division,” Mr. Katko said. “When this manifested in violent acts on Jan. 6, he refused to promptly and forcefully call it off, putting countless lives in danger.”
Mr. McConnell of Kentucky has told associates that he believes Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he approves of the House moving forward with the Constitution’s most severe punishment.
If the impeachment charge were to result in a Senate conviction, the Senate could vote to bar the president from holding public office again. Two Senate Republicans had already called on Mr. Trump to resign, and advisers privately speculated that an additional dozen or so could ultimately favor convicting him at trial.
(SOURCE: The New York Times)