Donald Trump's once iron grip on his party shows further signs of weakening as five Republicans announced they will join Democrats in voting to impeach the president over the attack on the Capitol.
White House officials have told CNN there could be up to 25 House GOP members who will vote to impeach the US President for the second time. Fox News is reporting that there could be up to 20 defections.
The news comes as Mike Pence rejects Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s urgent request to enact the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office.
The Vice President said on Tuesday night (local time) that he does not believe using the constitutional manoeuvre to place himself temporarily in power.
“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our constitution,” he said.
Move to impeach Trump gains momentum
With eight days remaining in Trump's term in office, the House of Representatives is poised on Wednesday (local time) to pass the article of impeachment accusing him of inciting insurrection in a speech to his followers last week before the mob of supporters stormed the Capitol.
The move will trigger a trial in the still Republican-controlled Senate, although it is unclear if enough time or political appetite remained to push Trump from office.
In the Senate, a two-thirds majority is needed to convict him, meaning at least 17 Republicans in the 100-member chamber would have to vote for conviction.
Presidents can be impeached after leaving the role.
‘Never been a greater betrayal by a president’
Third-ranking House GOP leader Liz Cheney announced she would vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday, cleaving the Republican leadership, and the party itself.
“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Cheney said in a statement.
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Four other Republican House members, John Katko, Adam Kinzinger, Fred Upton and Jamie Herrera Beutler, also said they would also vote for impeachment.
In a tweet announcing her decision to vote for impeachment, Rep Buetler was highly critical of the president’s response to the riots at the US Capitol.
“The president released a pathetic denouncement of the violence that also served as a wink and a nod to those that perpetuated it,” she wrote.
“The President’s offences, in my reading of the Constitution, were impeachable based on the indisputable evidence we already have.”
At a meeting to set the rules for Wednesday's impeachment vote, Democratic Representative David Cicilline told the House rules committee the impeachment drive had the support of 217 lawmakers – enough to impeach Trump.
Cicilline, who helped craft the impeachment measure, said Trump "has had almost a week to do the right thing. He has refused to resign, he has failed to take responsibility, he has demonstrated no remorse."
Greatest allies turn on Trump
The New York Times has reported the Republican majority leader of the US Senate, Mitch McConnell, is said to be “pleased” about the Democratic impeachment push.
Mr McConnell, who has been a long-time supporter of Trump, reportedly believes that the process will allow the Republican party to “purge” itself of the controversial president’s influence, the Times said.
McConnell has said no Senate trial could begin until the chamber returns from its recess on January 19.
But Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who will become the majority leader after two Democrats from Georgia are seated and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris is sworn in, told reporters the Senate could be recalled to handle the matter.
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