Multiple House Republicans announced Tuesday evening they would support the impeachment of President Trump for his role inciting last week’s riot as congressional Republicans made their clearest break with Trump to date after he showed no remorse for the US Capitol mob.
While the vast majority of House Republicans are expected to oppose the article of impeachment today, there are predictions ranging anywhere from as many as 10 to even 20 or more Republicans who could vote to impeach, according to Republican sources, with some estimates trending upward after the first Republicans came out in favor of impeachment Tuesday.
The first impeachment backers included the House’s No. 3 Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, in a remarkable rebuke with a President who has been unassailable in the House GOP conference throughout his four-year term. While House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is opposed to impeachment, House Republican leaders are not lobbying their members to oppose it, and Cheney told the conference Monday it was a “vote of conscience.”
In another potentially significant blow to Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he believes that impeaching Trump will make it easier to get rid of the President and Trumpism from the Republican Party, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
The scurrying away from Trump in the hours before the House will vote to impeach him Wednesday is the fiercest pushback the President has faced from Republicans since he was a GOP primary candidate who party leaders believed would fade away.
The GOP strategy on impeachment is a marked departure from the approach in 2019 when Republican leaders pushed their members to fall in line and no GOP House lawmakers defected. It shows the splintering of the GOP and how the party is deeply divided over how to respond to Trump after he incited last week’s deadly Capitol riot.
Rep. John Katko of New York was the first Republican to publicly state he would vote to impeach Trump, saying in a statement Tuesday he supported impeachment because the President needed to be held accountable for his actions.
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, another rare Trump critic in the House GOP conference, also announced Tuesday evening that he would support impeachment.
Trump’s impeachment for the second time in 13 months — which would make him the first President in history to be impeached twice — appears to be a foregone conclusion. The only question is how many House members vote in favor of removing the President from office eight days before President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in.
Republicans tried to offer an alternative to impeachment, such as a censure vote, arguing it could win more bipartisan support than an impeachment occurring just one week after the riots. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her caucus Monday that censure was a nonstarter, and Democrats are not considering any off ramps to avoid a second impeachment.