It sounds as if this thing has legs.
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-highest ranking House Republican, is a “yes” on impeaching President Trump for his role last week in a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol building.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is also reportedly open to impeaching Trump.
“A violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes,” Cheney said Tuesday in a statement. “This insurrection caused injury, death, and destruction in the most sacred space in our Republic.”
Last Wednesday, before an audience of hundreds of aggrieved supporters in the nation’s capital, Trump again repeated the claim that the 2020 election was stolen. The rally concluded with the president directing his supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol building during a joint session of Congress to protest the results of the election.
“We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said. “We’re going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try and give … our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
He added, “And we fight. We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
At least five people died in the riots that ensued, including a female Trump supporter who was shot in the neck and a U.S. Capitol Police officer who succumbed to injuries sustained during the defense of the People’s House.
On Tuesday, Cheney continued, saying in her statement, “Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough. 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,” the House Republican Conference chairwoman adds. “None of this would have happened without the President. 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.”
Cheney’s announcement concludes with a simple, but straightforward, sentence: “I will vote to impeach the President.”
Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, himself a frequent Trump critic, also released a statement Tuesday saying he would support a motion to impeach the president.
As big as these gets are, they are not nearly as big as the one allegedly in the works on the Senate side.
“Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky,” the New York Times reports, “has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party, according to people familiar with his thinking. The House is voting on Wednesday to formally charge Mr. Trump with inciting violence against the country.”
Competing newsrooms have independently corroborated the New York Times’s scoop.
“Mr. McConnell has indicated that he wants to see the specific article of impeachment that the House is set to approve on Wednesday,” the New York Times reports, “and hear the eventual arguments in the Senate. The House is expected to pass the single charge on Wednesday, and a senior administration official said the White House expects about two dozen Republicans to support it.”
For what it’s worth, neither McConnell nor Trump have spoken since the Kentucky lawmaker told the commander in chief that he would acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden as the legitimate winner of the 2020 election following the meeting of the Electoral College. Also, since that conversation in mid-December, Trump helped tank the Republican Party’s efforts to maintain two Senate seats in Georgia, costing McConnell his leadership spot and Republicans their control of the U.S. Senate.
Democrats tried once already to impeach Trump. It didn’t work, obviously. Only a single Republican in Congress’s upper chamber, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, voted to convict Trump on charges of abuse of power.
This time, however, may be significantly different, should impeachment charges against Trump go forward. There may actually be enough Republican support this time around for the charges to stick.
First, as a matter of pure politics, it makes sense now for the Republican Party to rid itself formally of Trump. Indeed, as Politico magazine contributor Liam Donavan notes, “As stunning as [Republicans] moving against Trump would be, the alternative is that he sticks around and makes their lives/careers hell for the next four years (at least.) If that’s going to happen anyway, a clean break looks pretty attractive. Now or never.”
There’s more. A confluence of recent events, including the mass exodus of Trump White House officials and social media’s near-total deplatforming of the president, may also make a second impeachment attempt more successful than the last.
“Trump can’t Twitter threat right now,” former GOP congressman Ryan Costello points out. “[White House] staff can’t lean in, they’re half out the door. Leadership isn’t in a position to pressure – a mob attacked while they were voting. Conservative media can’t use the tone they so often do. All institutional whip levers marginalized. A first.”
All of which is to say: This impeachment talk may have legs.