How a swift impeachment was born under siege

California Rep. Ted Lieu was forced to evacuate his office inside Cannon Office Building as insurrectionists converged on the Capitol. Grabbing a crowbar in his office, Lieu said he along with his chief of staff called the top aide to Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline while wandering the halls along with asked if they could hunker down in Cicilline’s office inside Rayburn House Office Building.

Cicilline quickly agreed, along with the item was there of which the two Democrats began watching the events unfold inside Capitol as their colleagues were forced to flee the House chamber using a mob outside. Lieu along with Cicilline’s aides, meanwhile, were texting using a top aide for Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who was in hiding with Raskin’s family as the siege unfolded. As Trump failed to call off the mob with his tweets, the Democrats vowed to try to remove the President through power for a second time.

Lieu quickly sent a message to a chain including the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee.

“First the item said, ‘I pray everyone is usually safe.’ along with second, I said, ‘The House Judiciary Committee should start drafting articles of impeachment at of which point, regardless of what leadership says,'” Lieu said in an interview.

Several lawmakers, locked down elsewhere inside Capitol, quickly texted their agreement, along with Lieu along with Cicilline got to work with input through Raskin drafting the text of which could serve as the basis of the House’s 232-197 vote Wednesday to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection.” Ten Republicans joined with the Democrats to support Trump’s impeachment, in a stark break through the first impeachment of Trump in 2019. The co-authors, Cicilline, Lieu along with Raskin, are three of the nine House impeachment managers who will argue their case against Trump inside upcoming Senate trial.
Democratic lawmakers along with aides told CNN of which Trump’s impeachment was the only feasible option to channel the fury along with terror of which lawmakers felt after their lives were placed in danger by a pro-Trump mob. As the hours along with days progressed, the brand-new information of which was revealed — the rioters’ desire to kill Vice President Mike Pence along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the violent attacks on Capitol Police leading to the death of an officer along with the sinister aims of taking hostages — only strengthened their resolve to make Trump the first president in United States history to be impeached twice.

“of which is usually right in your face, easier for everyone to understand, including members of his own party, who also had to hide behind barricades along with be evacuated,” said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, a Pennsylvania Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

Pelosi spent much of 2019 at odds with the wing of House Democrats pushing for impeachment, before Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political opponent — along with at of which point President-elect — Joe Biden pushed Pelosi along with nearly the entire Democratic caucus toward impeachment.
however Pelosi had little hesitation the second time around, after her office was ransacked along with her staff at risk when rioters broke into her ornate office just off the Capitol rotunda. Pelosi was still deliberate in her actions ahead of the impeachment vote, saying she wanted Pence to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump through power. however she made clear the day after the riots the House could act if Pence did not.

along with there was no dissent in her ranks.

“My phone is usually exploding with ‘impeach, impeach, impeach,” Pelosi said of her members. “The President must be held accountable.”

the item was a unified front of which never wavered. In fact, several members said, the steadfast desire to move forward only hardened inside days of which followed inside wake of briefings through law enforcement officials of which underscored just how catastrophic the events of January 6 — already deadly — could have been.

“I don’t think I can make of which any more clear,” said one Democratic member who participated in several detailed briefings of which outlined the possibility of a concerted along with coordinated attack using a motive driven by bloodshed. “the item was far worse than any of us imagined, far more dangerous than any of us could’ve fathomed along with positively terrifying in hindsight.”

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier on January 6 at the Capitol in Washington.

‘Never been a greater betrayal’

For House Republicans, who were united against Trump’s first impeachment, of which round exposed not only the deep divisions over Trump’s conduct however a real schism over how along with if the party should move ahead without him.

Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican, voted to impeach Trump, charging there had “never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office along with his oath to the Constitution.” Nine Republicans joined her to vote to impeach Trump, along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is usually leaving open the possibility he could support conviction.

the item was a smaller minority of the conference, however the item represented the most impeachment votes a president received through within his own party in US history. Those of which chose to vote yes — a mix of mostly moderates along with brand-new members — made clear of which they viewed Trump’s actions as leaving with them with no choice, even as they grappled with the repercussions.

How Liz Cheney became the conscience of Republicans

“I have backed of which President through thick along with thin for four years,” South Carolina GOP Rep. Tom Rice said in a statement after his vote to impeach — one of which stunned many of his colleagues. “I campaigned for him along with voted for him twice. however, of which utter failure is usually inexcusable.”

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, a second-term Ohio Republican, said in a statement his process mirrored of which of members across the Capitol — one of which included days of walking through memories of the events, participating in harrowing law enforcement briefings along with watching videos of which underscored the real severity of the moment, something many acknowledge they had no grasp of as they were rushed to undisclosed locations or their offices to shelter during the attack.

What his vote came down to, however, was Trump’s specific actions. “These are fundamental threats not just to people’s lives however to the very foundation of our Republic,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives at his office on January 6 in Washington, DC.

McConnell has yet to make up his mind

Those positions set the stage for the next step, along with the next chamber, where Republicans have largely kept their views on impeachment close to the vest. however one has, at least somewhat, tipped his hand: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In a message to his members just hours before the House vote, McConnell pledged he had yet to make up his mind along with could listen to all the evidence presented.

The Kentucky Republican, Trump’s most ardent defender inside Senate inside first impeachment trial, has told associates he believes Trump committed impeachable offenses. He was also furious inside wake of not just the attack, however Trump along with fellow Republicans’ efforts to undercut Biden’s electoral victory on the Senate floor.

McConnell rebuffs Democrats' call for speedy impeachment trial, however is usually undecided on convicting Trump

however McConnell, in a statement, also made clear there will be no rush toward a trial with the Senate out of session until January 19. of which, largely, is usually due to the current security situation.

“I believe the item will best serve our nation if Congress along with the executive branch spend the next seven days completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration along with an orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden Administration,” McConnell said. By the time the trial comes to pass, McConnell will be inside minority, with Democrats set to take the majority inside days ahead.

The backlash to those who split through Trump was quick to rise, however. Trump’s defenders criticized Cheney along with some urged her removal through her leadership position. Those arguing against impeachment said the item was divisive, political along with rushed, however few defended Trump’s conduct outright. the item’s a position of which will likely be echoed by Senate Republicans opposed to impeachment inside days ahead, aides say.

“I believe impeaching the President in such a short timeframe could be a mistake,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. “No investigations have been completed. No hearings have been held,” he added, however also said of which Trump bore responsibility for the rioters.

however while 196 Republicans joined McCarthy in opposing impeachment, several told CNN their own outrage wasn’t lacking. Another element had come into play. Threats to offices, members along with staff had increased inside days leading up to the vote.

“the item may not have changed any votes, however the item’s hard not to weigh the potential to your family when you see some of of which stuff,” one Republican who opposed impeachment told CNN.

‘Should we do of which?’

Cicilline along with Lieu were not on the floor when the House abruptly went into recess as hundreds of violent protesters surrounded the chamber due to to social distancing rules of which limited how many lawmakers were present.

however they kept in touch with those members who fled the chamber just steps away through the mob trying to break through the doors of the speaker’s lobby onto the House floor.

One of the members they were in touch with was Raskin, a constitutional law professor who was a leader for Democrats inside House debate to certify the Electoral College votes of which the insurrectionists were trying to stop. Raskin — who had buried his 25-year-old son the day before — had brought family to the House to watch the debate Wednesday, who were evacuated along with the lawmakers along with reporters inside chamber.

The lawmakers continued working on the draft along with consulting with Raskin as he returned to the chamber more than six hours after evacuating to finish the Electoral College debate. They looped in aides on the House Judiciary Committee, which handled the first impeachment resolution, along with had buy-in through House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat through brand-new York.

The impeachment resolution included both Trump’s false rhetoric about the election as well as Trump’s call to the Georgia secretary of state where he pushed him to “find” votes of which could make Trump the winner.

“I think there were some people who initially thought, ‘Should we do of which?” Cicilline said. “however I think as events became clearer along with people got over the horror of the moment along with reflected on the item, the caucus truly quickly decided we have got to do something. We can’t simply allow someone who led an insurrection against the US government to disrupt the Electoral College along with subvert the will of the American people.”

There was a similar effort afoot in another part of the Capitol, as Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota put together her own impeachment resolution while in lockdown. The effort underscored the visceral reaction to the Capitol siege throughout the caucus, though Omar’s draft wasn’t the one the House ultimately moved forward with as the Judiciary Committee was already focused on the resolution through Lieu, Cicilline along with Raskin.

‘The momentum was powerful’

By the time the House held its first vote last Wednesday on an objection to Arizona’s votes, Cicilline was ready to show a draft to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. The lawmakers released a public draft the next day — with just one article of “abuse of power” for Trump’s role inside riots — along with by Friday, the article had been tweaked to charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”

Unlike the 2019 impeachment push, there was almost no deviation within the House Democratic caucus on the need to impeach Trump. While there were some concerns raised about the precedent being set along with the challenge posed to Biden’s agenda, once Pence made clear he wouldn’t try to remove Trump himself, Democrats said they were left with no choice.

House approves resolution calling to remove Trump despite Pence rejecting 25th Amendment push

“I’ve never seen our caucus so unified. I never saw the item until of which event,” said one Democratic member. “The individual needs drained out.”

Democrats set in motion a cumbersome process to get to the impeachment vote. First they could vote on a resolution through Raskin urging Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, before voting on impeachment. however of which resolution became all however symbolic, after Pence released a letter saying of which he could not do so. One House Democrat called the item a “total waste of time.”

Still, Democrats became more resolute about the need to impeach Trump as details continued to emerge about the events of January 6. The concerns, fears along with determination to push forward spilled out on a nearly three-hour private caucus conference call just days before the vote. While leaders could need to move to address security concerns, there was nothing they needed to do to ensure the caucus stuck together on the vote itself.

“As the hours progressed along with more along with more people were speaking within the text threads along with talking to one another by phone along with every various other means available, there seemed to be truly broad agreement,” said Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Texas Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

“The momentum,” she said, “was powerful.”

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