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A week after a violent riot engulfed the Capitol, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Trump with a charge of instigating the assault. Lisa Desjardins reports.
It has been only seven days since the nation watched a mob storm the United States Capitol.
Today, the eyes of Americans were again on the Capitol Building, but, this time, as the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Trump on a charge of instigating the assault.
Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins reports on how this historic day unfolded.
The U.S. Capitol, still a recovering crime scene, today saw more extraordinary history…
The House will be in order.
… as the Democratic-led House moved with unprecedented speed to impeach a president and for an unprecedented second time.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi:
He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.
Rep. Jim Jordan:
It's always been about getting the president, no matter what. It's an obsession, an obsession that has now broadened.
All of this directly connected to the riot that engulfed the Capitol one week ago, killing five people, injuring dozens. President Trump had encouraged supporters to march to the Capitol. Those calling for impeachment say these words incited violence.
We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.
But the president's supporters point to these words as evidence otherwise:
President Donald Trump:
I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol Building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.
That is the impeachment charge and question: Did the president willfully incite violence against the government of the United States?
Passionate Democrats insisted today he must be held accountable.
Rep. Jim McGovern:
The president of the United States instigated an attempted coup in this country. People died. Everybody should be outraged, whether you're a Democrat or Republican.
If this is not an impeachable offense, I don't know what the hell is. This president is not fit to remain in office.
Rep. Ilhan Omar:
The president not only incited an insurrection against our government, but has, in word and deed, led a rebellion.
For us to be able to survive as a functioning democracy, there has to be accountability. We must impeach and remove this president from the office immediately, so that he cannot be a threat to our democracy.
Today's efforts came after Vice President Mike Pence sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last night announcing he would not invoke the 25th Amendment and strip the president of his duties, saying it would — quote — "set a terrible precedent."
On the House floor, the president's most ardent supporters rejected impeachment.
Rep. Tom McClintock:
If we impeached every politician who gave a fiery speech to a crowd of partisans, this Capitol would be deserted.
That's what the president did. That is all he did. He specifically told the crowd to protest peacefully and patriotically. And a vast majority of them did. But every movement has a lunatic fringe.
Rep. Jason Smith:
This country is hurting. The people are hurting. Our colleagues are hurting. This is a reckless impeachment. This will only bring up the hate and fire more than ever before. Have a conscience. Put the people before politics. Unify this country.
The chairman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Oklahoma.
But in a rare rebuke of any president, even some of his own party leaders and closest allies said he was responsible for what happened.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy:
Rep. Kevin McCarthy:
Some say the riots were caused by Antifa. There is absolutely no evidence of that. The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.
McCarthy stopped short of impeachment.
But other Republicans, like Washington's Jaime Herrera Beutler, voted to impeach.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler:
My vote to impeach our sitting president is not a fear-based decision. I'm not choosing a side. I am choosing truth. It's the only way to defeat fear.
In all, 10 Republicans threw their support behind impeachment. The final vote was 232 to 197.
It was one of the shortest presidential impeachment debates in American history, but it was incredibly passionate, with fear and blame woven together.
Rep. Diana Degette:
Just one week ago, almost to the hour, I laid right there on the floor of the gallery above us. I heard gunshots in the speaker's lobby. I heard the mob pounding on the door.
And what they were trying to do, they were all an angry mob incited by the president, trying to stop certification of a legitimate election. It's clear the president learned nothing in the last year.
Rep. Lauren Boebert:
Rather than actually helping the American people in this time, we start impeachments that further divide our country. I call bullcrap when I hear the Democrats demanding unity. Sadly, they are only unified in hate.
As the debate went forward, physical reminders of what sparked it were clearly in evidence. National Guard troops lined up in front of the Capitol, and sleeping inside, camping out on the marble floors of the Capitol, finding nooks next to statues, as they rotate on and off duty.
Lawmakers themselves faced new unprecedented security, now required to pass through metal detectors when entering the House chamber, and face masks are now mandatory, under penalty of a $500 fine for violations.
For his part, the president today sent out a statement urging calm. He wrote: "I urge there must be no violence, no lawbreaking, no vandalism of any kind. That is not what I stand for."
Meanwhile, there were more arrests in the investigation into last week's Capitol siege. Robert Keith Packer, who was pictured wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" sweatshirt when he stormed the Capitol, was taken into custody this morning in Virginia. Officials now are looking toward the inauguration.
And D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said today the security operation has intensified amid fears of renewed violence.
Clearly, we are in unchartered waters. And it is very important that we work with all of our partners to secure these events and secure these parts of our city.
Certainly, this time last year, we didn't expect to be in this situation.
City officials said upwards of 20,000 National Guard troops will patrol the district. That's four times the total number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
And Lisa joins me now from the Capitol.
So, Lisa, you have been telling us that this was not an easy decision for many Republicans. Tell you us a little bit more about the 10 who voted to impeach and why.
The vast majority of Republicans, nearly 200 of them, voted not to impeach. But let's talk about those 10 who voted to impeach.
Let's look at who they were. Here is the list of those 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the president. Now, these districts range from Liz Cheney's in Wyoming, which voted by 46 points for President Trump in 2016, to John Katko in New York, which voted for Hillary Clinton, conservatives to moderates.
What these folks have in common, Judy, from their statements today is, they feel the president did, in fact, directly call for these attacks on the Capitol, that he is directly responsible, and it is an impeachable offense.
Now, these members also know that it is a great political risk for many of them, facing possible primary challenges from the right because of this in two years, but also potential personal threat to them as well. We have seen some increases in those threats here at the Capitol.
And, Lisa, I want to ask you about that, because, again, during the day, you were reporting on the mood there at the Capitol, this sense of tension, worry about threats that have been thrown around in connection with all this.
Judy, there has been unease at the Capitol for a long time, but, in the last week, that has grown into out — straight-out alarm.
And while people have gotten threats throughout the Trump presidency, both sides, we have seen the number of threats, especially against Republicans, rise.
I want to play a sound bite from Republican Dusty Johnson of South Dakota from the special program that we had earlier, and he spoke to you. He talked about the threats he himself is receiving just in the last 24 hours.
Rep. Dusty Johnson:
Just today, just this morning, one of my offices received a threat against my life.
And I have received other threats against my safety. My address, a picture of my home, where my family lives, was posted on kind of an anti-Dusty Facebook page.
(AUDIO GAP) the impeachment vote, and they really did believe that a vote for impeachment was something that would — could put themselves and their family at personal risk.
At the same time, they all took it seriously as well on a philosophical level. This was a political and personal, very difficult decision for many of them. It has been a difficult mood here today at the Capitol, sad, also some fear.
But I do want to point out one bright spot. Just a few minutes ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed the article of impeachment to get it ready for the Senate. That's not the bright spot, necessarily, but she signed it on — she used the podium that had been stolen from her from this — from the House, from her chamber by the rioters.
That was brought back, and she used it as, clearly, a statement that the House is back in full operation.
Really interesting. And good to see that that was received, that it was returned to the Capitol.
And, Lisa, finally, what about the Senate? I mean, this does now go Senate. What do we know about what happens there?
So much to say, many fascinating developments there, Judy.
Today, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he is open to impeachment, but he has not decided for it yet. He also let it be known that he does not — he will not sign on to a fast trial, meaning the soonest the trial could happen in the Senate is after the Senate reconvenes. That next date is January 19, the day before inauguration.
McConnell and his staff, those around him, are making it clear that he does not think it is all — at all conducive to governing to have impeachment go on before inauguration, that he wants to try and have a stable transition of power, and that an impeachment before president-elect Biden takes office would not be helpful to that.
So, it's now clear that the Senate will move forward with the trial after president-elect Biden takes office. And we know several Senate Republicans are undecided, among them, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
And another question to be resolved: Can you — there will be a debate. Can you impeach a president after he has left office? There is some precedent, but there will be debate.
Seems like a lot is unclear about where this goes from here on.
But, Lisa Desjardins, reporting on it all.
Thank you, Lisa.
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