A growing number of Republicans want President Donald Trump to leave office before January 20, with some top lawmakers telling CNN they are considering supporting his impeachment.
Two Republican members of Congress who are former Trump allies told CNN they would support impeachment against the President over his role in Wednesday’s deadly attack on the US Capitol if the articles are reasonable. One member said, “I think you will have GOP members vote for impeachment.”
While the window is narrowing for an impeachment vote and trial before Trump’s term ends, one of the GOP lawmakers said the proceedings could be done quickly.
“We experienced the attack,” the member said. “We don’t need long hearings on what happened.”
House Democrats are currently planning to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump as soon as Monday, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. That could set up a vote in the House sometime next week. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has not explicitly said when this will go to the floor. In a Friday meeting with members, the California Democrat made clear that there is more backing within the House Democratic caucus for impeaching Trump now than there was in 2019.
By impeaching and removing Trump, even at this late stage of his term, the Senate could subsequently vote to disqualify him from ever holding federal office again.
Multiple Republican lawmakers on the Hill have told CNN they are done with Trump and hope he will leave office before the end of his term, either by his resignation, his removal via the 25th Amendment or by conviction in an impeachment trial. On Friday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska became the first Republican in Congress to call on Trump to resign, telling the Anchorage Daily News, “I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, has endorsed invoking the 25th Amendment. One Republican senator, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, said in radio interviews Friday that he would consider impeachment, though he questioned whether that was a prudent course of action.
Even Trump’s former chief of staff retired Gen. John Kelly told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday that he would vote to remove Trump under the 25th Amendment if he were still in the Cabinet.
All of this demonstrates how much the dynamic has changed for many Republicans since Trump incited his supporters to storm the Capitol on Wednesday. No Republican House members voted to impeach Trump in December 2019, and just one GOP senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, voted to convict him a month later.
After years of accommodating or embracing Trump, Republicans are angry at the President for encouraging the riot, which placed them in personal physical danger.
“He sent the mob to the Capitol, where we were engaged in carrying out our constitutional duties to count electoral votes and declare he lost the election,” said one Republican lawmaker.
From the Democrats’ point of view, impeachment would force Republicans to go on the record and vote on Trump’s actions. If successful, it would make Trump the first President in history to be impeached twice. Democratic leaders also believe it would clear the deck for Joe Biden to pursue his agenda without having to worry about dealing with calls from angry Democrats hungry for retribution against Trump.
President-elect Biden has no appetite for opening an impeachment proceeding against Trump, people familiar with the matter told CNN.
“What the Congress decides to do is for them to decide,” Biden said on Friday.
Multiple Republican sources have told CNN they are trying to keep pressure on Trump to restrain himself in his final days in office. Along with the talk of invoking the 25th Amendment and the litany of resignations from his administration, impeachment provides a useful pressure point. Furthermore, it would give House Republicans who want to put distance between themselves and Trump the opportunity to do so — and give Republicans who feel the need to show solidarity with Trump the same.
But other Republicans say impeachment is not realistic given the short timeline before Biden’s term begins. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of GOP leadership, told 41 Action News in his home state that another Trump impeachment is “not going to happen.”
“There is no way we’re going to impeach the President. There’s not the time to do it,” Blunt said.