The US House of Representatives approved this Wednesday the opening of a new impeachment trial against the outgoing president, Donald Trump, this time under the accusation of “incitement to insurrection” after last week’s assault on the Capitol by a mob of his followers, which left five dead.
Concrete blocks block the main axes of the city center, huge metal barriers surround many federal buildings, including the White House, and the National Guard is deployed everywhere.
Increasingly isolated on his own side, the stormy president on Tuesday tried to downplay the Democrat-driven procedure, describing it as “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics.”
A few days before his departure to his residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, where his new life as “former president” should begin, Trump seems disconnected from what is happening in the US capital.
No Republican in the House of Representatives voted in December 2019 to “impeach” Trump over pressure on Ukraine to investigate alleged corruption by Biden. And the president was acquitted of the impeachment trial by the Senate, with a Republican majority.
But this time, five congressmen had announced their support for “impeachment.” Among them, Liz Cheney, one of the leaders of the Republican minority in the Lower House and daughter of former US Vice President Dick Cheney.
“None of this would have happened without the president,” he said of the assault on the Capitol.
The Democratic Speaker of the Lower House and Democratic Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi revealed the names of her team of “prosecutors” who will be tasked with taking the case to the still Republican-dominated Senate for impeachment.
More worrying for Trump and his possible political future is that Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican majority in the Senate, told his associates, according to reports from the New York Times and CNN, that he viewed the “impeachment” favorably, considering that the indictment is founded and would help the Republican Party turn the page on Trump forever.
This clever strategist, highly influential and crucial ally of Trump for four years, may hold the key to the outcome of this historic procedure, because he could encourage Republican senators to condemn the 45th US president.
From Alamo, Texas, Trump, who for two months has denounced that his reelection was stolen, tried Tuesday to adopt a less aggressive stance than last week, calling for “peace and calm.”
But he also refused to assume any responsibility for the robbery on the Capitol, assuring that his speech, in a massive ceremony with his followers prior to the assault, was “totally appropriate.”
His vice president, Mike Pence, refused to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution that would have allowed him to remove the outgoing president, declaring him unfit to serve.
Despite this, the House of Representatives passed a symbolic resolution Tuesday night urging Pence to bring the cabinet together and appeal to that constitutional mechanism.
Supported by some very loyal lawmakers and officials, Trump is more alone than ever after a series of resignations from his administration and scathing criticism.
YouTube temporarily suspended its channel Tuesday night and removed a video that it deemed violated the social network’s rules on incitement to violence. Twitter closed the @realDonaldTrump account permanently last week.
Democrats will take control of the Upper House on January 20, but they will need to convince many Republicans to achieve the two-thirds majority required for conviction.
The trial also runs the risk of hampering legislative action by Democrats early in Biden’s presidency, by monopolizing sessions in the Senate.
Biden will be sworn in on January 20, right on the steps of the Capitol, the seat of Congress.
Criticized for its delay in dispatching the National Guard last Wednesday, the Pentagon authorized the deployment of 15,000 troops for the inauguration ceremony.
Originally mobilized to provide logistical support to the police, its members began carrying weapons on Tuesday night, according to an AFP photographer.