Wednesday January 13, 2021
Welcome to TOPLive. The U.S. House of Representatives is preparing to vote on a history-making second impeachment of Donald Trump as lawmakers seethed over his role inciting last week’s mob attack on the Capitol and the president’s once-firm control over the Republican Party began to break down. Sponsors of the resolution are claiming broad support from Democrats and public backing from several Republicans, including Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House GOP leader and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Join us at 10:30 a.m. New York time for news and analysis as we bring you full coverage of the debate on the House floor. A vote on the impeachment resolution is expected by mid-to-late afternoon.
Welcome to our TOPLive blog coverage of the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
I’m Steven Dennis, a Bloomberg Senate reporter, and I’ll be joined by Emma Kinery, Ari Natter, Vivek Shankar and other colleagues to report on today’s events.
The House will hold hours of debate before voting on an article of impeachment charging Trump with inciting an insurrection to overturn the results of the presidential election. A small number of Republicans have already signed on, including the Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
We’ll be watching to see just how many Republicans are willing to buck Trump. No Democrat is expected to oppose the impeachment.
Right now the debate is still taking place.
Bloomberg reporters Billy House and Erik Wasson are on the scene. They report a massively beefed up military presence surrounding the U.S. Capitol following last week’s deadly riot. The Department of Homeland Security moved up the National Special Security Event preparations for Joe Biden’s inauguration six days to today.
That includes troops with rifles, an extended perimeter and more adding to fencing that went up shortly after the riot.
The House was set to begin debate shortly after 9 a.m., with the vote on the impeachment resolution expected by mid-to-late afternoon, according to House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern.
Under rules in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, members will vote in staggered groups on the House floor, and some by proxy, concluding before 5 p.m.
Read more details here:
While Trump’s first impeachment in 2019 drew no Republican votes in the House, a small but significant number of leaders and lawmakers are breaking with the party to join Democrats, saying Trump violated his oath to protect and defend U.S. Democracy, the AP reports.
In addition to Cheney, Republican Representatives John Katko of New York, a former federal prosecutor; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an Air Force veteran; Fred Upton of Michigan; and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state have announced they would vote to impeach Trump.
Trump would become the first president to be impeached twice. Only three presidents have ever been impeached -- Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Trump himself, and none has been convicted in the Senate.
It remains unclear when a Senate trial would occur. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is pressing Mitch McConnell, who remains the majority leader for another week or so, for the chamber to return “ASAP” to hold a trial under a special rule allowing the two leaders to agree to an emergency session.
McConnell has yet to respond.
Schumer has raised the possibility of invoking a 2004 emergency session law to convene a trial this week, although such a move would require the consent of McConnell.
The New York Times reported yesterday that McConnell was pleased about the impeachment effort and sees this as a chance to help purge the party of Trump. McConnell and his aides, however, have so far declined to comment.
McConnell hasn’t spoken about Trump at all in the week since the riot, though his wife, Elaine Chao, resigned as transportation secretary.
In a speech before the riot, McConnell vigorously opposed Trump’s effort to overturn the results, warning of a “death spiral” for the republic from challenging Biden’s state-certified electors and dismissing Trump’s claims of widespread fraud or even that it was a particularly close election.
One key matter that Republicans upset with Trump have mentioned is that it took hours for him to call on the mob to leave the Capitol once the riot started. During that time, senators and others were on the phone with top White House officials trying to get Trump to do just that. Cheney wrote:
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Some Republicans are also angry at Trump for saying yesterday that his speech to the crowd calling on them to March on the Capitol and “fight” to overturn the election results, but do it peacefully, was “appropriate.”
Many Republicans have said Trump deserves at least some responsibility for having whipped up the crowd and for telling them that Vice President Mike Pence alone had the power to overturn the results, leading some to chant “hang Mike Pence” and seek him out in the Capitol after he declared he had no power to do so.
The House is holding procedural votes now setting up the debate on the impeachment resolution itself. Once they are done with this vote series there will be a couple more hours of debate.
Market participants aren’t expecting too much movement off the impeachment vote. All eyes are on the Fed today. The market could react if there’s a large public response -- riots, protests, etc. Another thing to be aware of is any impact on stimulus negotiations.
Should the political saga linger past Biden’s inauguration, votes on further (and larger) rounds of stimulus that the market has priced in could be delayed. Any threats to that narrative and the market will surely react.
That being said, those are things to keep in mind in the longer-term. Today, the expectation is that the vote won’t move markets.
On the Twitter front, one prominent voice will be silent today. That’s Trump himself, who was banned last week by the social-media network.
The president was active on Twitter the last time he was impeached -- in December 2019. Back then, too, Trump said he did nothing wrong.
Of course, Trump has other venues to get his side of the story out. The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House is just one of them.
Trump has no public events on his schedule today. Those of us in the press pool here are on standby in case that changes as the impeachment effort marches forward.
While Republicans deal with the second impeachment of their party’s standard-bearer, as well as the loss of the White House and Senate, they are also enduring a backlash from corporate donors.
Bloomberg’s Gregory Korte and Bill Allison write:
Major U.S. corporations are punishing Republicans in Congress who tried to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory, vowing to pull their campaign contributions after a right-wing mob stormed the U.S. Capitol last week.
Read the rest here:
A titan of the business world says he feels betrayed by Trump’s actions. Ken Langone, founder of Home Depot and a Republican donor, spoke with CNBC earlier Wednesday.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has opposed impeachment but generally avoided defending Trump’s conduct. McCarthy has come under withering criticism for calling for “unity” after he led the bulk of his party in voting to block Biden’s electors from Arizona or Pennsylvania.
That action now threatens support for the GOP’s campaign coffers from corporate America, with some companies announcing they will suspend donations to members who voted to overturn certified election results in the wake of the riot.
Reporter Daniel Flatley interviewed John Katko, the first Republican to announce he would vote for impeachment. Katko said one of his former interns, now a Capitol Police officer, was severely beaten in the attack.
Read it on the web here, or on the Terminal here:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer earlier:
“If these actions are not worthy of impeachment, then what is an impeachable offense? There is no doubt in my mind that the president of the United States broke his oath and incited this insurrection.”
Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat and co-author of the impeachment resolution, said this in a statement:
“Everyone involved in this assault must be held accountable, beginning with the man most responsible for it – President Donald Trump.”
The single article of impeachment the House is voting on accuses the president of inciting the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Five deaths were connected to the storming of the Capitol, including that of a police officer. Some offices were ransacked and the rioters took pictures of themselves behind desks and standing on statues. Lawmakers, who had been in a joint session to certify Electoral College results that Biden won the presidency, were forced to flee the House and Senate chambers.
The Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman weighs in on the Republican defections.
With so little time left, why would Congress move toward impeaching Trump rather than wait for him to leave office or vote to censure him, a much shorter process?
Many Democrats believe impeachment to be necessary to give a strong condemnation of the events on Jan. 6. But impeaching and removing Trump could also bar him from holding public office.
Some Republicans, notably McConnell, are more likely than not open to voting in favor of removing Trump in order to oust him from the party. A McConnell vote would make it easier for other GOP senators to follow suit. But today the vote is in the House.
No president has ever been removed from office after impeachment.
In building its case for high crimes and misdemeanors as demanded in the Constitution, the four-page impeachment resolution relies on Trump’s own incendiary rhetoric and the falsehoods he spread about Biden’s election victory, including at a White House rally on the day of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Any chance of convicting Trump likely starts and ends with McConnell. Without his backing, Trump would almost surely be acquitted, given his continued strength among the GOP base. If McConnell votes to convict, it’s plausible to find a path to the 17 or so Republican votes needed, assuming every Senate Democrat also votes to convict.
The Senate would have the option of barring Trump from holding future office, which would have major implications for the 2024 presidential election.
Constitutional legal scholars argue that in theory Trump could also be barred from holding public office ever again under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which allows Congress to bar any person who has “engaged in insurrection” from holding office.
It was enacted after the Civil War to bar Confederates from being returned to power.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters this morning that the impeachment articles would be sent to the Senate immediately, rather than wait for months as House Majority Whip James Clyburn had floated over the weekend to avoid impacting Biden’s early agenda.
If McConnell does not agree to Schumer’s gambit for an emergency impeachment trial, it would take every senator to begin the trial before Trump leaves office, per a memo McConnell’s office sent last week to Republican senators.
And that in turn risks stalling confirmation of Biden’s Cabinet nominations and more. Biden has sought to have a two-track process allowing the trial to take place for part of the day and regular Senate business for other parts of the day.
Speaking to reporters while departing the White House for Texas, Trump called the House’s push to impeach him again “absolutely ridiculous” and said it is causing “tremendous anger.”
Trump later said that what he told his supporters on the Ellipse ahead of the riot was “totally appropriate.”
“They’ve analyzed my speech and my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody to the T thought it was totally appropriate. Okay, thank you.”
Speaking in front of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Texas, Trump said yesterday that the House’s initial push for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment was “of zero risk.”
“The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for.”
Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of Trump’s most loyal backers, has been leading Trump’s defense on the House floor. He’s been relitigating Republican complaints about how the Pennsylvania election was conducted and pointed to previous Democratic objections to Republican electors in previous elections.
Jordan and other defenders of Trump note that in his speech he called on the rally to be peaceful and that he condemned the violence.
In addition to armed troops in and outside the Capitol today, the House installed metal detectors outside the House chamber itself for House members themselves. That had some Republicans strenuously objecting or refusing to do so, and loudly complaining.
The House also adopted a new rule setting stiff fines for lawmakers who refuse to wear face masks to protect against the pandemic. That comes after a group of House Republicans refused to wear masks last week while stuck in a secure room last week with Democrats after they were evacuated from the House.
Three Democrats have since said they have tested positive for the virus and have criticized the maskless Republicans.
You can follow today’s proceeding on the web here. Terminal subscribers can watch here.
Alexander Vindman, a key witness in Trump’s last impeachment, weighs in:
Bloomberg Opinion’s Robert A. George looks at Liz Cheney’s role in the impeachment:
It’s hard to say that Cheney’s decision is the obvious tactical choice of someone who presumably has designs on the speakership (after all, she passed on an open Senate seat last year). What explains it? One possibility, of course, is that she believes she’s doing the right thing.
Read the rest here:
If McConnell does not agree to a faster timeframe, the soonest any trial could begin is Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, my colleagues Mike Dorning, Erik Wasson and Billy House report: