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Rep. Val Demings: ‘The House is ready to move with impeachment’

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by a majority of Democrats, will begin impeachment proceedings on Wednesday, as more Republicans indicated they may vote to remove President Trump from office. Florida Democratic Rep. Val Demings is a member of the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees. She joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the House plan to impeach the president a second time.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now we will hear from members on both sides of the political aisle about the House plan to impeach President Trump a second time.

    We start with Representative Val Demings, a Democrat and a member of the Judiciary and the Homeland Security Committees. And she joins us now.

    Congresswoman Demings, thank you very much for being with us again.

    It's clear things are moving very quickly. What is your understanding right now of the disposition in the House when it comes to the impeachment vote?

  • Rep. Val Demings:

    Well, Judy, it's great to be back with you.

    And, look, this past week has just been an unbelievable week, starting with what happened, the attack on the Capitol on last Wednesday. You know, it would be great if President — or Vice President Trump (sic) would invoke the 25th Amendment, where he could remove the president immediately, which we really need to happen.

    Obviously, it doesn't appear he has an appetite for that. But the House is ready to move with impeachment. Of course, tonight, we will vote on the resolution asking Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. We don't expect him to do that. We're ready to move with impeachment.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You were very involved in the impeachment, the first impeachment process against President Trump, a little over a year ago. How is this one going to be different? Is it easier? Is it harder?

  • Val Demings:

    Well, Judy, it's really about holding the president accountable.

    You know, everybody counts, but everybody is accountable. No one is above the law. We know how the impeachment trial — hearing and trial went last year. The president should have been held accountable. He was not.

    But let's fast-forward to last Wednesday. We were engaged in certifying the electoral votes, which is a part of the peaceful transition of power, while we were — members were attacked by an angry mob that was incited by President Trump.

    The president knew or he should have known that his actions and his words and the actions and words of his enablers would have incited his followers to violence, which we clearly saw.

    What's the difference? Five people died last Wednesday, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer who was just trying to do his job, to keep the Capitol safe and to keep us safe.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And what do you say to the arguments that are out there among some Republicans that he's only got, what, seven, eight days left in office as president; what good does it serve to make this move against him?

  • Val Demings:

    I go back, Judy, to the vice president could remove him immediately, and a portion of the Cabinet. They have chosen not to do that.

    But us fulfilling our congress — or constitutional responsibility has nothing to do with the clock. The president incited a riot. He incited people to try to come to the Capitol and overthrow the government to prevent us from doing our work.

    He has to be held accountable for that. This is about accountability. And since the vice president will not invoke the 25th Amendment, that leaves us with impeachment. We're going to live up to our constitutional responsibility, and we will be having that vote on tomorrow.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And since Democrats are in the majority, it sounds as if there's nothing to stop the impeachment vote from passing.

    I do want to also ask you, Congresswoman Demings, about what happened last week. Based on what you have been learning, do you now believe that there was inside help for the rioters, either from law enforcement or from members of Congress, for what happened last Wednesday?

  • Val Demings:

    Well, first of all, let me say that the United States Capitol Police, those officers on the front lines did an amazing job, considering they were understaffed, did not have adequate resources, or support from other agencies. They did an amazing job.

    However, once the Capitol was breached, it does appear that some of the rioters knew exactly where they were going. There were offices, as you have heard earlier, that are unmarked. There are many members who don't know where those offices are. But the rioters certainly knew where to go.

    And so we're going to be looking into everything. As you know, there are several investigations going on. And we have to look at every person who may have had something to do with coordinating this vicious and violent attack.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What do you believe the consequences should be for members of Congress who might have been involved or the members of Congress who spoke at the rally encouraging the crowd who showed up in Washington last week?

  • Val Demings:

    You mean members who said things like taking names, and kicking ass?

    I think the — if you look at statements that were made before or during the rally, and then, immediately, the crowd marched down to the Capitol and tried to do just that, breaching the Capitol. You heard the threats against the vice president and others.

    And so, certainly, any member of Congress, starting with them, who may have participated in this effort to overthrow the government, five people dead, one of them a police officer, certainly must be held accountable, along with the president of the United States.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And what does that mean, holding them accountable? What should happen?

  • Val Demings:

    Well, the investigation has to move forward, so we can understand exactly what role they played.

    We know that there will be internal investigations from the Committee on Ethics. There will also be, as you know, criminal investigations that are ongoing. So, once testimony comes in, witnesses come forward, watching the video, learning exactly what role any member of Congress played, they should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law, if they violated any laws.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Congresswoman Val Demings, we are certainly going to be watching very closely tomorrow as this historic second move to impeach President Trump takes place.

    Thank you very much.

  • Val Demings:

    Thank you.

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