File photo: US President Donald Trump walks down the West Wing colonnade from the Oval Office to the Rose Garden to deliver an update on the so-called "Operation Warp Speed" program, at the White House in Washington, on November 13, 2020. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo)
Accused of stoking the mob assault on Congress on January 6, Trump broke his silence from the White House only to issue a brief statement insisting on his opposition to violence. "In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be no violence, no lawbreaking and no vandalism of any kind. That is not what I stand for," he said. The US House of Representatives voted to impeach him for his role in an assault on American democracy that stunned the nation and left five dead.
The impeachment comes just seven days before he is due to leave office and President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20. A vote of the House majority to impeach would trigger a trial in the still Republican-controlled Senate, although it seems such a trial would take place in time to expel Trump from the White House.
Democrats moved forward on an impeachment vote after Vice President Mike Pence rejected an effort to persuade him to invoke the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution to remove Trump. "I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution," Pence said in a letter Tuesday evening to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Despite the letter, the House passed a resolution late Tuesday formally calling on Pence to act. The final vote was 223-205 in favor.
As the House prepared for the impeachment vote on Wednesday, there were signs that Trump's once-dominant hold on the Republican Party was beginning to ebb. At least seven House Republicans, including Liz Cheney, a member of her party's leadership team, said they would vote for his second impeachment - a prospect no president before Trump has faced. "There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution," Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, said in a statement.
Trump "summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack" on the Capitol, she said. Four other Republican House members, Jaime Herrera Beutler, John Katko, Adam Kinzinger and Fred Upton, also said they supported impeachment.
In a break from standard procedure, Republican leaders in the House have refrained from urging their members to vote against impeaching Trump, saying it was a matter of individual conscience. The New York Times reported that the Republican majority leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell, was said to be pleased about the impeachment push, another sign that Trump's party is looking to move on from him after the attack on Congress.