UPDATE, 9:38 AM PT: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged members to vote to impeach Donald Trump for a second time, calling him a “clear and present danger.”
“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation we all love,” Pelosi said, her voice a bit muffled from her face mask, as members began two hours of debate.
In the article of impeachment, Trump is charged with inciting the insurrection at the Capitol last week. A mob of his supporters stormed the complex as Congress was preparing to certify the electoral vote for Joe Biden. Just before, Trump had railed against the results of the election in a speech at the Ellipse, telling his supporters, “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He urged them to march to the Capitol and said the he would be there with them, although he did not make the trek.
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The Capitol was like a fortress in advance of the vote, as hundreds of members of the National Guard were fanned out across the complex. Soldiers bivouacked on the floor of the Capitol Visitor Center, a military presence that may have been unmatched since the Civil War.
The show of security was visible elsewhere, with a perimeter fence around the Capitol. Members for the first time were required to go through metal detectors before taking to the floor, although some Republicans ignored Capitol Police officers and just walked in the chamber even after setting off alarms.
There were still signs of the damage from last week, with windows boarded up, but other areas were repaired. There were new glass doors on the Speakers Lobby. That was the site of a standoff between police officers and the rioters, in which one woman demonstrator, Ashli Babbit, was shot and killed.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters that up to 20 Republicans could vote to impeach, a contrast to Trump’s first impeachment in December, 2019, when no GOP members voted for it.
“It is always about getting the president no matter what,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who spent his time railing against “cancel culture,” at one point saying, “The Ayatollah can tweet but the president cannot.”
PREVIOUSLY: A heavy presence of National Guard members was fanned out across the Capitol grounds as the House prepares to impeach Donald Trump for the second time, as he is charged with inciting the insurrection a week ago.
The House began debate on a rule to proceed on Wednesday morning. There will be two hours of debate on the impeachment articles, with a vote expected in the mid- to late-afternoon.
“This was a well organized attack on our country that was incited by Donald Trump,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), the chairman of the House Rules Committee, who recounted seeing the rioters attempt to break through the doors just outside the House chamber. “Domestic terrorists broke into the Capitol that day, and it is a miracle more didn’t die. As my colleagues and I were being evacuated to safety, I never ever will forget what I saw in the eyes of the attackers right in the Speakers Lobby there. I saw evil.”
“America was attacked and we must respond,” he said.
It will take 218 votes to impeach Trump. Democrats reportedly have 215 votes in favor, and so far five Republicans have said that they will also support impeachment.
A number of Republicans didn’t defend Trump’s conduct, but said that another impeachment would be divisive.
“Instead of moving forward as a unifying force, the majority in the House is choosing to divide us further, with only a week to go in his term,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), who said that last Wednesday’s siege of the Capitol was the “darkest day” he had experienced in Congress. After Congress reconvened that evening, Cole was among the 147 Republican lawmakers in the House and the Senate to vote against certifying the electoral votes for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer read through Trump’s comments at a rally that preceded the Capitol siege, and then recounted that rioters were “infected with white supremacists, carrying a rebel flag, erecting a gallows structure with a noose. Wearing shirts and hateful messages, such as ‘Camp Auschwitz.’ ‘Work brings freedom.’ And ‘MAGA civil war January 6th 2021’.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) railed against the process, claiming that impeachment was about “canceling all the guys that you disagree with.” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) responded by saying, “The cancel culture of violent white supremacy tried to cancel out all of our lives last Wednesday.”
News networks are providing coverage throughout the day, with CNN taking down a paywall for a free livestream. Broadcast networks also are planning special reports.
If the House passes the article of impeachment, Trump will be the first president to be impeached twice. With just a week left in his term, the question is whether the Senate can hold a trial by the time that Trump’s term ends at noon on January 20.
On Tuesday evening, the House adopted a resolution, 223-205, calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump. In a letter to Nancy Pelosi, Pence said that he would not do so.
A year ago, the Senate was about to start a trial of Trump on the House’s first impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. That impeachment was over a July 25, 2019 phone call in which Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to launch an investigation of Biden.