WASHINGTON (CN) — President Donald Trump will likely be the first American president impeached twice, by two separate Congresses, after lawmakers began to debate the sedition allegations against him Wednesday morning.
When the House gaveled in Wednesday to begin debate on the articles, Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern outlined last week’s events.
As staff barricaded doors of offices, he noted, people sent text messages telling family members they loved them — they thought they were saying goodbye while under siege from Trump supporters who stormed the building.
“This was a well-organized attack on our country that was incited by Donald Trump,” the Massachusetts Democrat said. “Domestic terrorists broke into the United States Capitol that day, and it’s a miracle more people didn’t die.”
Last week’s insurrectionist attack on what many congressional and Senate leadership called the “temple of Democracy” was only the second time in U.S. history the building had been stormed — British troops set the structure ablaze during the war of 1812. This time, as U.S. Capitol Police defended the space where lawmakers in both chambers prepared to debate the counting of certified electors, a mob of armed extremists overwhelmed the building. They called among other things for the death of perceived Trump enemies, beginning with those next in the line of succession: Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate President pro tempore Chuck Grassley.
The president hours before had encouraged his supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol and protest the tally that would inevitably confirm the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.
Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries has confirmed that investigations are being conducted into other speakers at the “Save America” rally, including Donald Trump Jr. and Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, who said there should be “trial by combat” if Republicans weren’t allowed to examine Dominion voting machines.
Four civilians died in the resulting melee, and two U.S. Capitol Police officers died in the following days — Officer Brian D. Sicknick was beaten with a flag and later died of those injuries; Officer Howard Liebengood killed himself on Saturday.
Michigan Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and a handful of other lawmakers responded last Thursday by drafting articles of impeachment against Trump. A week later, that number has swelled to more than 200 House members of Congress — including two Republican lawmakers: John Katko of New York and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
According to a New York Times report, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pleased with Democrats’ quick movement and believes the president committed impeachable offenses. Whether more will join him is yet unclear.
Tom Cole, the ranking Republican on the House’s Rules Committee, opined Wednesday that the limited time Trump has left in office means there is no reason to rush forward with removing him.
One week after Trump supporters sought to assassinate members of Congress, Cole said members were following a “flawed process.”
“We need to recognize that while the House may be done with this matter after today’s vote, it will not be done for the country, it will not be done for the Senate and it will not be done for the incoming Biden administration,” Cole said.
Though few Republicans defended Trump’s involvement, lawmakers seemed to hold their party lines Wednesday as they began discussing the president’s actions.
Georgia Republican Buddy Carter called the siege “one of the saddest days” of his life, for example, but said it was Congress’s responsibility to “chart a path forward to subdue the growing animosity and subdue the growing animosity.”