(Bloomberg) — Republican Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican leader, said she will vote to impeach Donald Trump, a major split within the party after the president’s supporters stormed the Capitol last week.
“On Jan. 6, 2021 a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes,” Cheney, of Wyoming, said in a statement. “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.”
Three other Republican House members, John Katko of New York and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Fred Upton of Michigan, also said Tuesday that they would back the impeachment of Trump.
The House is poised to vote as soon as Wednesday on a single article of impeachment accusing the president of inciting the mob that attacked the Capitol. Trump on Tuesday rejected taking any responsibility for the assault, which occurred after he addressed a rally near the White House.
Five deaths were connected to the storming of the Capitol, including a police officer. Some offices were ransacked and the rioters took pictures of themselves behind desks and standing on statues. Lawmakers, who had been in a joint session to certify Electoral College results that Joe Biden won the presidency, were forced to flee the House and Senate chambers.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi welcomed Cheney’s decision and said more Republicans should follow her lead.
“Good for her for honoring her oath of office,” Pelosi told reporters. “Would that more Republicans would honor their oaths of office.”
Katko said he was proud to be the first Republican to say he’d vote for Trump’s impeachment and he expects more of his GOP colleagues to join him. Katko said his time as a federal organized crime prosecutor informed his way of viewing the case.
“When you get rid of all the politics and all the objections and everything else and just say, ‘Was there sufficient evidence for this to go to trial?’ There’s just no question my mind there was, and that’s what we’re deciding tonight and tomorrow,” Katko said in an interview.
Katko said that he was “profoundly affected” by learning that one of his former interns who now works as a Capitol Police officer was severely beaten in Wednesday’s attack. He said he expects some fallout from his decision. His district in upstate New York borders that of Representative Elise Stefanik, who has said she won’t support impeachment.
“Obviously I’m going against my party and I’m going against my president so I’m sure there’s going to be repercussions but you know what you got to do the right thing,” he said. “There’s many many times in my career as a prosecutor where I had to do the right thing despite tremendous pressure to the contrary, and this is another one of those.”
The four-page impeachment resolution includes a single article accusing Trump of “Incitement of Insurrection,” and says he “willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol.” It also cites Trump’s telephone call to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, urging that he “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win there.
The House is also voting Tuesday night on a largely symbolic resolution demanding Vice President Mike Pence invoke constitutional authority convene the cabinet and declare that as a result of his encouraging the crowd of his supporters that marched to Capitol Hill, Trump is unable to perform his duties as president.
But Pence informed Pelosi in a letter on Tuesday night that he wouldn’t invoke the 25th Amendment and “that such a course of action is in the best interests of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution.”
The Republicans who say they’ll vote to impeach Trump all cited his role in encouraging his supporters on Jan. 6 who later stormed the Capitol. Cheney also faulted Trump for not stepping in after the riot started.
“The president could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” she said. “I will vote to impeach the president.”
Kinzinger became the third Republican to say publicly that he’ll vote in favor of impeachment.
‘No Doubt in My Mind’
“There is no doubt in my mind that the president of the United States broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection,” Kinzinger said in a statement. Referring to the articles of the Constitutions, he said, “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?”
Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, had previous public disputes with the president — on foreign policy, how he’s handled the coronavirus pandemic and her backing of a primary challenger to Republican Representative Tom Massie of Kentucky.
She has been a target of internal GOP criticism from Trump allies, such as House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs of Arizona, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio and Representative Chip Roy of Texas.
Yet when Democrats brought impeachment charges against Trump in 2019, Cheney was a staunch defender, and she regularly voted in favor of his agenda.
When the House impeached Trump in 2019, no Republicans voted for the articles. Trump was acquitted by the Senate.
Several Republicans have blamed Trump for the violent Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by his supporters. Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, said Tuesday in a statement that “Both in his words before the attack on the Capitol and in his actions afterward, President Trump bears some responsibility for what happened on January 6.”
(Updates with Katko quotes beginning in the eighth paragraph. An earlier version corrected the day of Portman’s statement, in the final paragraph.)
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.