House Republican leadership just announced that they will not “whip votes” for the House’s bill to impeach the President for inciting an insurrection.
A verified source familiar with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) thinking told Occupy Democrats she believes some Republicans understand that Trump’s mob nearly killed them indiscriminately and that this week’s votes are part of a brewing change of House GOP caucus leadership to elevate its third in charge to the Minority Leader’s position.
The Chairwoman of the House Republican Caucus Liz Cheney (R-WY) told CNN today that tomorrow’s impeachment proceedings are a “vote of conscience” meaning that congressional leaders won’t threaten their members to vote against impeachment. Rep. Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney who just announced that she will vote against Trump this week.
Liz Cheney: "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…I will vote to impeach the President."
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) January 12, 2021
“On Wednesday, when all of this happened, you really saw lawmakers who understood that they were in the middle of an assassination attempt and they heard that the Speaker and VP were the main targets,” said the source about Pelosi’s recounting of events inside the chamber. “They were targeted in a bipartisan way, people shooting through the House attacked all of them indiscriminately. Some Republicans on Capitol Hill understood that this was a domestic terror event and an assassination attempt.”
The last time the House impeached Donald Trump for high crimes, only former Representative and House Freedom Caucus co-founder Justin Amash (I-MI) voted to impeach. Extreme pressure was placed on the only GOP member brave enough to float the idea, ex-CIA officer Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), who didn’t vote to impeach and retired soon after.
But this week there could be a significant vote from his own party to impeach Donald Trump in a bipartisan fashion. Forbes reports:
“Anywhere from 10 to 20 Republicans have indicated privately that they will back impeachment, according to multiple reports.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the chair of the Republican conference and third-ranking GOP House member, is reportedly among those ‘very seriously’ considering the move.”
One member, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said he’d “vote the right” way over the weekend after having tweeted “This is a coup” during Trump’s attempt to overturn the election results with his supporters’ assault on Congress.
The first House Republican to break with Trump was Rep. Jon Katko from upstate New York, and his decision could open the floodgates against the seditious President.
BREAKING: Rep. John Katko will vote to impeach President Trump. He's the first GOP House member to publicly back impeachment.https://t.co/JQ52LT3mwA
— Chris Baker (@chrsbakr) January 12, 2021
There was, however, a more numerous group of House GOP caucus members during last week’s failed Trump coup, according to the source relaying the Speaker’s observations this past week, “who thought the insurrectionists were ‘just a few bad apples.'” They say Pelosi believes the real “bad apples” are only the “people who returned to the Capitol through shattered glass, bloody hallways that were strewn with trash and feces to continue to object to the bipartisan certification of the Presidential election results.”
“[House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy [R-CA] let them do that,” Pelosi believes according to the source. “It was at that moment that McCarthy’s leadership ended. They may not yet have had a formal transfer of power in the House Republican Conference, but the reckoning is upon them, and they soon will. Expect Cheney to replace McCarthy before the year is out.”
This week we will see two votes of the House of Representatives, the first coming today on a resolution to ask Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the Constitution’s 25th Amendment and hold a vote of the Trump Cabinet from which a majority opinion would remove Donald Trump from the presidency for the remainder of his term. That’s due to the 25th Amendment’s 21-day window for Congress to act on the requested reinstatement of a removed chief executive. Section 4 of the Amendment reads:
“If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.”
“This vote for the 25th Amendment and the vote for impeachment isn’t just about Donald Trump,” says the source familiar with the Speaker’s thinking. “They are ‘test votes’ about Kevin McCarthy too. The sooner Republicans police their own, the better-off their conference, and the country will be. If a Democratic leader had allowed this to happen on his or her watch, everybody would have already called for their resignation.”
Voting for impeachment also initiates the process to strip Donald Trump of his post-presidency benefits including a $200,000 annual pension, a million-dollar travel budget annually, staff, office space, and security. In addition, with a majority vote of the Senate, he can be banned from holding office for life, which is the heart of his ongoing nine-figure grift from selling his post-election lies to donors.
Yesterday, McCarthy spoke with Donald Trump for 30-minutes according to Axios, and chose to break with the President’s election lies, telling him “Stop it. The election is over.” McCarthy reportedly told Trump that he should call President-elect Joe Biden and write the traditional welcome letter to his successor. “It’s not Antifa, it’s MAGA. I know. I was there,” the California Republican told Trump.
Interestingly, the source says the Speaker’s belief is that Rep. Cheney’s delivery of the caucus’s message today is the culmination of events which may have actually started over a week ago on the first night of Congress this year, a special Sunday session to swear in members and elect the chamber’s leadership. They relayed a story from the House floor that wasn’t generally reported in the media to indicate why.
“During the Speaker’s vote last Sunday, members noticed in real-time when Liz Cheney made a speech on behalf of the Republican Conference, very much like the speech of a candidate about accomplishments, and about working in a divided government,” says our source familiar with the Speaker thoughts. “When McCarthy made his speech, he was ungracious not only to the Speaker but also to the members of his caucus who had just voted for him and to the new members. Audible snickers came from both sides of the aisle. One lawmaker speaking for many called out, ‘You’re a sore loser.'”
Since last week, when Donald Trump incited an insurrection mob, the ground underneath American politics has shifted almost overnight as the true intentions of the MAGA movement have been revealed. During the chaos, rather than call in the National Guard and coordinate a response to save the lives of the second, third, and fourth people in the line of presidential succession, Trump instead called Senators asking them to slow the vote-counting down.
His lawyer Rudy Giuliani accidentally left a voicemail intended for a newly sworn-in Alabama Senator on a different Republican’s voicemail, which revealed that their plan involved delaying President-elect Biden’s victory so they could achieve murkily specified goals in state capitals. Sen. Jeff Merkely (D-OR) tweeted that if not for the Senate’s brave staff, the MAGA rioters would’ve stolen and (possibly) burned the electoral certificates.
Instead, long after midnight in Washington on democracy’s longest night, the Vice President in his role presiding over the Senate officially declared Joe Biden as the 46th President-elect and Sen. Kamala Harris as the Vice President-elect.
But future President Biden will inherit an entirely new political landscape, which could include an impeached President awaiting trial or on-trial in the early part of his term, as well as a new House Minority leader from a different Republican dynastic family with its own, heavy baggage of war and lies.
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Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and an unpaid senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition.