One of the US President’s fiercest defenders now “hates” Donald Trump and has said he won’t speak to him again.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is reported to have told colleagues he is “pleased” the impeachment process is happening as it will allow the Republicans to be “purged” of Mr Trump’s influence. According to the New York Times, he is said to have been enraged by the President’s lacklustre comments following the mob attack.
Other senior Republicans have also begun turning on Mr Trump almost guaranteeing he will be impeached on Wednesday, US time. If that happens he will become the first president to be impeached twice.
On Tuesday night, Republican representative Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney, said the DC riots was an “insurrection” and there “had never been a greater betrayal” by a US president.
Three Republicans have now said they will vote against Mr Trump. But it is thought as many as 20 politicians from Mr Trump’s own side could seek to impeach him. Significantly, during the 2020 impeachment vote, not one GOP member voted to impeach the President.
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However, while Mr Trump may be impeached in the House vote – which will happen tomorrow Australia time – there is still no certainty there will be enough support in Congress to turf him from office before his term concludes on January 20 and he hands over to Joe Biden.
Five people have now died as a direct result of last Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol Building in Washington DC.
A rally earlier that day, at which Mr Trump invited his followers “to walk down to the Capitol”, is being cited by some as evidence of incitement and grounds for him to leave office.
The riot has seen US politicians from both major parties turn on Mr Trump. In the dying days of his presidency, he is now increasingly isolated with many of his senior cabinet members having resigned.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed that the Reps will vote on a resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence to use his powers under the 25th amendment to sack his boss. He has shown little enthusiasm for doing this. Assuming that remains the case, on Wednesday another vote will be held to formally impeach Mr Trump. The charge is “incitement of insurrection”.
Only a simple majority vote is needed to impeach. With the Democrats controlling the house, its odds on that would have occured even without Republican support.
‘NEVER BEEN A GREATER BETRAYAL’
On Tuesday, Ms Cheney said the riot at the US Capitol was an “insurrection” and that had led her to turn against Mr Trump.
“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. None of this would have happened without the President,” she said in a statement.
“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.”
Another Republican representative has said he will also vote to impeach.
Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said: “There is no doubt in my mind that the President of the United States broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection.
“He used his position in the Executive to attack the Legislative.”
He joins John Katko who said Mr Trump had “encouraged this insurrection”.
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MCCONNELL NOW ‘HATES’ TRUMP
Once the Reps has impeached a president, the matter passes to the Senate. It’s here that the accused faces a trial on the charges.
It’s not a criminal trial; Mr Trump won’t go to prison. But if the President is convicted, he’s gone from the Oval Office.
However, the Senate is also where the process gets bogged down where a two-thirds majority is needed to apply any kind of penalty.
When Mr Trump was impeached last year, over a scandal where he was alleged to have withheld military aid from Ukraine unless the country began an investigation into the Biden family’s financial interests, the Senate failed to convict.
Commentators have said it is unlikely enough Republican senators would join the Democrats to provide the super-majority.
However, reports Mr McConnell’s has told colleagues he believes Mr Trump has committed impeachable offences will be a body blow to the President.
According to the New York Times, the most senior Republican in the Senate wants him gone from the party.
One source told the paper Mr McConnell “hates” Trump for his comments following the attacks and he “won’t talk to Trump again”.
Reportedly, Mr Trump has refused to take calls from Mr McConnell since he urged Congress to certify Mr Biden’s win following the attack.
His intervention doesn’t mean a push to sack Mr Trump will succeed. However, it could give other Republicans the added impetus they needed to vote against Mr Trump.
“These reports that Mitch McConnell may be open to the impeachment charges as well is a potential earthquake in the Senate,” Democrat Adam Schiff told CNN.
It also may mean that even if Mr Trump survives in office until the inauguration of Mr Biden, the impeachment proceedings could continue after his departure.
If the Senate convicts Mr Trump after January 20 it will be too late to sack him. However, he could be barred from standing for office again and have his lucrative presidential perks removed.