Washington The US Republicans are facing the greatest test of their loyalty to Donald Trump. Later on Wednesday, the House of Representatives will vote in the US Congress on whether to face impeachment proceedings for the outgoing president a second time. It is very likely that the impeachment will be decided. The Democrats together have the simple majority required for this.
The chamber is expected to vote in the late afternoon (local time). After that, the indictment can be turned over to the US Senate, which will conduct the process and determine Trump’s guilt.
At the first impeachment a year ago, the Senate exonerated Trump from all charges in the Ukraine affair. This time Trump is supposed to answer for the charge of “inciting insurrection”, a week after his supporters stormed the Capitol. The President had called for resistance at a rally in front of the White House, within sight of Congress.
Top jobs of the day
Find the best jobs now and
be notified by email.
Regardless of the outcome of the Senate proceedings, it will be interesting to see how many Republicans in the House of Representatives will join the Democrats on Wednesday. A handful of MPs have broken with Trump in the past few days.
The most powerful Conservative woman in the Chamber, Liz Cheney, is a prominent example of the Republican ousting movement. “The President of the United States called this mob, gathered the mob and lit the flame of this attack,” she said. “There has never been a greater betrayal of his office and his constitutional oath by a president.”
Cheney announced that she would vote yes, along with two other MPs from her group. More names could follow later in the day.
Even the Republican head of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, should no longer stand by Trump. According to the “New York Times”, McConnell, who accompanied Trump through all crises for four years, is “satisfied” with the impeachment. The impeachment process makes it easier for the party to free itself from Trump’s influence.
According to the TV broadcaster CNN, the rift had already emerged before the elections when Trump boycotted the negotiations on the Covid aid package with Congress. Despite the vaccination start, the corona numbers continue to climb unchecked. 23 million people in the United States have been reported infected so far, and nearly 400,000 people have died in connection with the virus.
It is not very realistic that Trump will be removed from office before Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, the schedule is too tight for that. From a purely legal point of view, however, it is possible to find Trump guilty even after he has left the White House – and to forbid him from future political offices.
For a conviction, however, the Democrats would need the support of 17 Republican senators, which is a high hurdle. But the mere fact that McConnell does not aggressively reject impeachment in the Senate is a sign that Trump’s support is waning.
Does the break come too late?
Trump also shows no insight a week after the riots in which six people died. The impeachment will provoke “immense anger”, he threatened on Tuesday. He has Vice President Mike Pence to thank for the fact that he has not been removed from office by his cabinet. He rejected such a measure on the basis of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.
The passage regulates the case that a president is declared incapable of governing. “Actually, the passage refers to physical disability,” says politics professor Lara Brown from George Washington University. Removing a president from office against his will is “almost impossible”.
The Vice President himself was the target of the riots last week. Parts of the Trump mob threatened on the net to “deliver Pence to the gallows” because he wanted to certify the election victory of Joe Biden in Congress. Nevertheless, it seemed easier for Pence in the end not to denounce Trump publicly – perhaps also because he is said to have ambitions for a future leadership role with the Republicans.
Because even if a number of Republicans distance themselves, the party does not seem to want to alienate the Trump base in the country completely. After all, 71 million US citizens voted for Trump, more than in 2008 for Barack Obama.
The enthusiasm among segments of the population was a major reason Republicans embraced Trumpism. So they accepted that Trump was celebrated as a nationalist, drove up debts, torpedoed international alliances and buried free trade. They also defended him because he filled judge posts with conservative lawyers, kept taxes low and tightened immigration policy.
Successors get into position
Some senators, including Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, appear to want to carry on Trump’s legacy in the Senate. They appealed to Biden’s election victory until the very end. There are also loyal Trump supporters in the House of Representatives, including MPs Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan.
So far, there has been no concerted call by Congress Republicans to resign, the Democrats have taken over. The Republican boss in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, clearly rejected an impeachment on Wednesday. “The country must now grow together, the opposite is being promoted here,” he said.
The extent to which the party is divided can be seen in the struggle for the successor, which will be important for the presidential election campaign in 2024 at the latest. A group of conservative women are getting into position: In addition to the Trump critic Liz Cheney, there is the governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem, a loyal supporter of Trump. Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley is also considered to be interested.
In addition to Pence, Mike Pompeo could want to play a bigger role, the Foreign Minister has demonstratively held back with statements in recent days.
In Trump’s family circle, his eldest son Don Junior and his daughter Ivanka are said to have ambitions. Unlike her father, Ivanka Trump wants to attend Biden’s inauguration ceremony – a sign that she wants to stay in the public eye.
The party will have to position itself in the coming weeks and months, regardless of impeachment. Under Trump, the Republicans not only lost the White House but also both chambers of Congress.
If they want to go into the next elections stronger, radical opposition alone might not be enough. The Republicans need a few achievements to point to, such as fighting pandemics or an infrastructure package.
McConnell, who will soon have to hand over the leadership of the Senate to the Democrat Chuck Schumer, already seems to be looking for ways to work together. According to CNN, Biden and McConnell, who have known each other from decades of work in the Senate, are on the phone this week. With Trump, however, there should be radio silence.
Read more: The US is preparing for new unrest, the FBI warns of acute danger.