Katko, Cheney First House Republicans to Back Trump Impeachment

January 13, 2021 by Dan McCue
Rep. John Katko

Rep. John Katko, of New York, and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, of Wyoming on Tuesday evening became the first House Republicans to announce they will vote to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting a riot last week at the U.S. Capitol.

Katko, a former federal prosecutor,  was the first House Republican to break ranks and say that he will join at least 218 House Democrats who signed onto an impeachment resolution.

Cheney’s announcement came later, but is particularly significant in that she’s the first member of House GOP leadership to announce their support for impeachment, breaking with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on the matter.

A vote is expected late Wednesday, a week before President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office.

“To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko said in a statement posted to Twitter Tuesday evening. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action. I will vote to impeach this president.”

He added, however, that he does not support a non-binding resolution requesting that Vice President Mike Pence invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump.

Katko said before deciding what he would do, he carefully considered the events of last week.

“It cannot be ignored that President Trump encouraged this insurrection – both on social media ahead of January 6th, and in his speech that day,” he concluded.

“By deliberately promoting baseless theories suggesting the election was somehow stolen, the president created a combustible environment of misinformation, disenfranchisement, and division. When this manifested in violent acts on January 6, he refused to promptly and forcefully call it off, putting countless lives in danger.”

In her statement, Cheney said, “On January 6, 2021 a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes. This insurrection caused injury, death and destruction in the most sacred space in our Republic,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough,” she continued. “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. 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.

“I will vote to impeach the president,” Cheney said.

Katko, who co-chairs the Republican Governance Group, formerly the Tuesday Group caucus of moderate Republicans, is expected to be among fewer than a dozen House Republicans to break ranks in Wednesday’s vote, but things were exceeding fluid on Capitol Hill Tuesday night.

Within minutes of Katko’s announcement, published reports suggested Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had been seen as an obstacle to the impeachment charge being heard in the Senate, was said to be happy the House is pursuing the matter, seeing it as a way to cleave the Republican party from Trump’s influence.

Other reports then arose that McConnell had spoken to President-elect Joe Biden about the impeachment, and that they discussed holding hearings on Biden’s cabinet nominees in the morning and the impeachment trial in the afternoon should the matter extend beyond the inauguration.

McConnell, of course, won’t be majority leader once Biden is inaugurated, but under this scenario he’d at least get the process started.

Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., has said he would support a bill to censure Trump and an effort to ban him from holding federal office in the future. But he’s been outspoken in his opposition to impeachment, arguing it would  “further fan the flames of division.” 

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