Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is signaling he is in favor of impeachment, a GOP source familiar with McConnell’s thinking tells CNN.
“Unlike Kevin McCarthy, he doesn’t think Trump will just fade away, thinks the party needs to make a clean break to save itself,” this person said.
Ultimately, however, it is up to McConnell to say where he stands on impeachment. His silence so far has been deliberate, and he is very careful with what he says.
A separate Republican source said they expect about 10-20 House Republicans to vote for impeachment. The source went on to say that the White House is putting huge pressure on members, and that members are saying “they want to vote to impeach but they legitimately fear for their lives and their families’ lives.”
This person points out that a week after Jan. 6th, President Trump is still trying to intimidate members, adding that people should be careful about numbers being put out by the White House on how many GOP members they expect to vote for impeachment.
This person believes the White House is exaggerating numbers so that when the number of Republicans voting against Trump falls short they can claim victory with Trump to try to make him feel better.
Additionally, GOP staffers – including those of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy – are upset at members not voting for impeachment and are raising it with their bosses, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN.
And as members push back on impeachment by citing the process, one Republican source told CNN:
“Saying it is rushed is a lame excuse…. This is not about process. We know what happened. We were there. We saw it. We were the targets of it.”
Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner intervened when other officials tried restoring President Trump’s social media presence on sites that are often havens for extremists, such as Gab, following an unprecedented ban from several major platforms.
According to an outside adviser and an administration official, Kushner and deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino blocked efforts by other aides, including the personnel chief Johnny McEntee, to get the President on fringe social media platforms after he was suspended in some fashion from almost every major one, including Twitter, Facebook and, now, YouTube.
Those officials had initially attempted to use other Twitter accounts, including those run by campaign officials, to tweet in Trump’s name.
The White House did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.
In the context of impeachment: Trump’s avenues for responding to the impeachment are similarly limited. Ordinarily, aides would look to Twitter for the President’s first response to being the only president in history to be impeached twice. So, too, would Republican members of Congress fear what might appear on Trump’s feed if they decided to break with him and vote for his impeachment.
But Trump’s account has been permanently suspended – and with it his principal weapon for ensuring GOP loyalty.
The White House said in a statement this week it opposes impeachment, and Trump railed against the proceedings on Tuesday.
“It’s causing tremendous anger and division and pain far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time,” he said during his visit to Texas.
On the day he will be impeached for a history-making second time, President Trump lacks a comprehensive legal strategy, has nothing on his public schedule and is without his preferred social media methods of responding — in part because his son-in-law put a stop to efforts establishing his presence on fringe platforms after he was banned from Twitter.
It amounts to near-invisibility for the President at the most perilous moment of his presidency, which is ending in tumult and dramatic rebuke from members of his own party.
Aides expect Trump to mostly watch the proceedings on television throughout the day. But without Twitter, a campaign rally, a team of lawyers or Republicans willing to defend his actions, Trump is set to weather the historic shaming in subdued fashion.
That’s a distant cry from the first time he was impeached, when aides organized a campaign rally in the aptly named Battle Creek, Michigan, to coincide with the House vote.
At the rally, which occurred at the same time members were impeaching him, his press secretary emerged in the crowd to hold up a placard displaying the vote total.
“We got every single Republican (to vote) for us!” Trump crowed when he saw the final tally, adding at another point: “It doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached.”
That is not how it feels this time. A handful of Republicans are poised to vote to impeach him, including Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell meanwhile has said to believe impeachment will help oust Trump from the GOP for good. According to a person familiar with his reaction, Trump was particularly incensed Tuesday night by Cheney’s announcement, which said he’d betrayed the office of the presidency.
While other Republicans oppose impeachment because they say it is “divisive,” they are not defending Trump on the merits of what he is being impeached for: inciting an insurrection.
Rep. Jim McGovern, chair of the House Rules Committee, closed his remarks today by saying “we will never have unity without truth and also without accountability.”
He chided some GOP members for what he said were hypocritical pleas of unity.
“Some of my Republican friends have been trying to lecture us about unity here today — unity after they voted to overturn a free and fair election in the United States of America, but also preaching unity and not acknowledging that for four years many of them gave oxygen to Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories,” McGovern said.
He said Republicans who vote for impeachment are showing courage.
“This week in Congress we saw the best of us and the worst of us. Some of my colleagues have shown that they will defend this President no matter what he does. … But some are standing up and doing the right thing under tremendous pressure. I’m proud of that. I honor them for their courage,” he said.
He encouraged all House members to vote for impeachment.
“This impeachment resolution outlines the truth of what Trump did. It is time that this Congress now holds him accountable for his words and for their devastating impact,” McGovern said.
A source familiar with the relationship between the two men said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is furious with President Trump right now.
The source said McConnell “hates” Trump for what he did last week following the attacks on the Capitol that left at least five people dead including a Capitol Hill police officer.
- They haven’t spoken in weeks: Trump and McConnell still have not spoken since last Wednesday’s riot, a separate source familiar confirms to CNN. The pair have not spoken since Dec. 15.
- McConnell’s thoughts on impeachment: CNN has reported that McConnell has indicated that he believes impeaching President Donald Trump will make it easier to get rid of the President and Trumpism from the Republican Party. McConnell is furious about last week’s attack on the US Capitol by the President’s supporters — even more so that Trump has shown no contrition. His silence has been deliberate as he leaves open the option of supporting impeachment.
- The effect on the Senate GOP conference: McConnell has been steadily moving his conference away from Trump for weeks. While he knows they all aren’t there with him, but believes the party needs to turn the page. McConnell has made no commitments on voting to convict Trump at a Senate impeachment trial, and wants to see the article itself before voting.
Remember: While Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has urged McConnell to reconvene the Senate and hold an impeachment trial this week, it is unlikely this will happen.
Under a 2004 resolution, if both the Minority and Majority Leader agree they can bring the Senate back. Without McConnell approving bringing back the Senate early, it looks like the fastest timeline for a trial to get underway would be the beginning of next week. Note: The House can still transmit the articles and it could be as soon as today. They can still do that even though the senate isn’t in session.
The House is voting now on the rules governing the impeachment article that they will vote on later today.
Remember that voting in the House takes time because of coronavirus protocols.
What comes next:
- Once the House passes the rule, the House will proceed to a two-hour debate on the impeachment resolution.
- The final vote will begin between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET.
As with all important votes in times of coronavirus, these things are a bit fluid in terms of timing. The resolution is expected to pass.
Republican Rep. Tom Cole, ranking member of the House Rules Committee, closed this morning’s debate by calling this impeachment push a rush to judgment.
“Mr. Speaker, in closing, I oppose this rule and oppose the majority’s actions today. After the traumatic events of last week, the majority should be taking steps to unite us. Instead they are only dividing us further. They’re rushing to judgment in my opinion and bringing up impeachment after failing to follow any meaningful process whatsoever.”
Cole further criticized the process being undertaken by the House.
“No hearings have been held. No witnesses heard, no process or opportunity to respond was provided to the president. No members had an opportunity to review or amend this article before it came to the floor.”
Instead, he said, the House should “celebrate the peaceful transition of power to a new president rather than impeaching an old president.”
He closed by urging his colleagues to vote no on impeaching Trump.
Hear Rep. Cole’s closing remarks:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he’s expecting 10-20 Republican defections on impeachment today.
He also said he still wants to send the article of impeachment immediately to the Senate but defers to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The House can still transmit the articles this week — and possibly even today — even though the Senate isn’t in session.
Some background: While Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reconvene the Senate and hold an impeachment trial this week, it is unlikely this will happen.
Under a 2004 resolution, if both the Minority and Majority Leader agree they can bring the Senate back. Without McConnell’s approval to bring back the Senate early, it looks like the fastest timeline for an impeachment trial to get underway would be the beginning of next week.
McConnell has indicated, however, that he believes that impeaching President Donald Trump will make it easier to get rid of the President and Trumpism from the Republican Party, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar urged Republicans to vote to impeach President Trump, saying the rioters at the Capitol were “specifically incited by the President of the United States.”
“For us to be able to survive as a functioning democracy, there has to be accountability,” Omar said. “I stand ready to fulfill my oath of office, and I challenge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to do the same,” she added.
She called the riots a “violent attempt to interrupt our democratic process.”
“It was a targeted blow at the most essential process that makes us a democracy,” Omar said. “The president, not only incited an insurrection against our government, but has in word and deed led a rebellion. We cannot simply move past this or turn the page,” she added.
Watch her statement: