Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY), John Katko (R-NY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) on Tuesday emerged as the first House Republicans to back an impeachment article that at least 218 House Democrats have co-sponsored after President Trump incited the deadly insurrection at the Capitol last week.
In a statement on Tuesday, Cheney, who is the third-ranking House Republican, announced her support for impeaching Trump, saying the President “summoned” and “assembled” the mob that stormed the Capitol.
“None of this would’ve happened without the President,” Cheney said. “The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Cheney told GOP members a day before in a conference call that their impeachment decision is a “vote of conscience” and not a political vote, according to the Associated Press.
Liz Cheney: “I will vote to impeach the President." pic.twitter.com/LsmIwPMrUV
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 12, 2021
Shortly before Cheney announced her support to impeach Trump, Katko backed the effort and became the first Republican lawmaker to do so.
In a statement shared with Syracuse.com on Tuesday, Katko said his decision to vote to impeach Trump is based on the President’s role in posing “a direct threat” to democracy.
“To allow the President of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko said, according to Syracuse.com. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action. I will vote to impeach this president.”
Katko stressed that Trump encouraged the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, citing the President’s social media posts in the day leading up to the riots and Trump’s speech hours before the Capitol was breached by his supporters.
“It cannot be ignored that President Trump encouraged this insurrection – both on social media ahead of January 6th, and in his speech that day,” Katko said, according to Syracuse.com. “By deliberately promoting baseless theories suggesting the election was somehow stolen, the President created a combustible environment of misinformation, disenfranchisement and division. When this manifested in violent acts on January 6th, he refused to promptly and forcefully call it off, putting countless lives in danger.”
Katko’s support of impeaching Trump takes his initial rebuke of the President after the Capitol riots further.
A day after the insurrection at the Capitol, Katko said that “hindsight is 20-20” when asked about Trump.
“If I knew back then what I saw yesterday, I clearly wouldn’t have supported him, and I can’t support him going forward,” Katko said last week, according to Syracuse.com.
Kinzinger (R-IL) became the third Republican to publicly back impeaching Trump, arguing that the President “broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection.”
— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) January 12, 2021
On Sunday, Kinzinger told ABC News that “the best thing for the country” is for Trump to resign, adding “the next best thing is the 25th Amendment.” Although he was the first Republican lawmaker to publicly call for Trump’s removal in light of the Capitol siege, Kinzinger said that impeachment is “probably not the smartest move,” but that he would “vote the right way” if an impeachment article came forward in Congress.
The public support for Trump’s impeachment by Cheney, Katko and Kinzinger comes amid a handful of Republicans beginning to express support for holding Trump accountable for his actions that culminated in the Capitol riots.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) have privately warmed up to punishments for Trump that Democrats are pushing.
The House is set to take up impeachment proceedings Wednesday after it votes on a resolution to ask Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office Tuesday evening.