President Donald Trump arrives on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Washington. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Gerald Herbert

President Donald Trump arrives on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Washington. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Gerald Herbert

Impeachment, again: Congress mobilizes to brand Trump with a second scarlet letter

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Another historic day of reckoning dawned Wednesday for Donald Trump as members of the House of Representatives debated whether to impeach the U.S. president for the second time in just over a year.

Lawmakers, many of them emotionally scarred and still seething with anger after last week’s rampage on Capitol Hill, were poised to vote later in the day on a resolution accusing the president of inciting an insurrection.

“America was attacked, and we must respond,” said Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, chair of the House rules committee.

“Every moment Donald Trump is in the White House, our nation, our freedom is in danger. He must be held to account for the attack on our Capitol that he organized and he incited.”

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, the deputy minority whip, tried to counter the Democrats’ offensive with the one and only argument Republicans have left: that impeachment would only aggravate Trump’s most combative supporters.

“I can think of no action the House can take that is more likely to further divide the American people than the action we are contemplating today,” Cole said.

“Emotions are clearly running high and political divisions have never been more apparent in my lifetime.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a longtime Trump devotee who broke with the commander-in-chief in the hours following the riot, only to return to the fold during Tuesday’s presidential visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, weighed in via Twitter.

“Supporting the impeachment of President Trump under these circumstances will do great damage to the institutions of government,” Graham tweeted, “and could invite further violence at a time the president is calling for calm.”

Wednesday’s debate was taking place inside a Capitol precinct transformed into an armed fortress in the days since enraged Trump supporters, convinced by the president’s lies of a grand conspiracy to deny him a second term, overpowered a meagre police presence and forced their way into the building.

Five people died amid the mayhem, including Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who was assaulted in the melee, and Ashli Babbitt, 35, an Air Force veteran who was shot by police as she tried to get to the House chamber.

Since then, the entire complex has been surrounded by a two-metre fence and concrete barriers and flooded by members of the National Guard, whose ranks in the U.S. capital could top 15,000 by the time president-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated next week.

Everyone trying to enter the Capitol Building must pass through metal detectors, including members of Congress seeking to access their respective legislative chambers.

Lawmakers arriving for Wednesday’s debate were greeted by a striking spectacle: armed soldiers, their riot gear at the ready, temporarily camped out on the floor of the visitors centre — the first military bivouac on Capitol Hill since the days of Abraham Lincoln.

“We all want to talk about unity,” McGovern said.

“I can’t think of anything that will unify this country more than if there was a big bipartisan vote in favour of impeachment. Every second that this president remains in office is a danger to this country and to the world.”

Given the number of Democrats who have promised to vote to impeach, along with an indeterminate handful of Republicans, impeachment is all but a foregone conclusion, making Trump the first president in U.S. history to experience the indignity twice.

Prominent GOP defectors to date include Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-highest ranking Republican in the House, who issued a seismic statement Tuesday supporting the Democratic effort.

“The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Cheney said. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the constitution.”

When the article of impeachment goes to the Senate for trial, and whether the necessary two-thirds of senators would vote to convict once it does, remains unclear.

Importantly, conviction in the Senate would bar Trump from ever seeking public office again, thwarting any plans he may have to run again in 2024.

The timing is key: the Senate isn’t currently scheduled to sit before Tuesday, the day before president-elect Joe Biden is to be sworn in and Democrats take control of the Senate.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Town of Ponoka and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) have ratified a new agreement, averting a strike. (File photo from Facebook)
Alberta gov’t ‘using pandemic as shield to lay off workers,’ says AUPE

The Government of Alberta’s “attacks on workers” is continuing with a new… Continue reading

Rocky Mountain House RCMP, EMS, Search and Rescue, STARS air ambulance and Alstrom Helicopters worked together to rescue a fallen ice climber Friday. (Photo contributed by Rocky Mountain House RCMP)
Rocky Mountain House RCMP help rescue fallen ice climber

Rocky Mountain RCMP helped assist a fallen ice climber Friday afternoon. At… Continue reading

Students Association of Red Deer College president Brittany Lausen says she’s pleased the college is offering students a choice to attend class in-person or remotely. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Red Deer College winter term enrolment dips

Enrolment down about six per cent but mix of online and in-person instruction is going over well

Brett Salomons, of Salomons Commercial, and Mark Jones, CEO of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, in the CACAC's new temporary home. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre’s One Day Challenge returns

Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre has announced its One Day Challenge is… Continue reading

Dwayne Buckle, 40 of Red Deer finished a 1,638-kilometre walk, in honour of his family. The 12-week, 82 day-journey wrapped up in Port Hardy, B.C. on Monday. Facebook photo
Red Deer man completes 1,638 km hike for cancer research

Dwayne Buckle, a Red Deer firefighter returned home Friday after his 12-week journey

A Suncor logo is shown at the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Thursday, May 2, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Body of worker whose bulldozer fell through ice on inactive tailings pond recovered

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — Oilpatch giant Suncor says the body of a… Continue reading

A restaurant manager in Orlando used a sign to secretly ask an 11-year-old boy if he needs help from his family after they were spotted withholding food from him. (Photo courtesy Orlando Police Department)
WATCH: Restaurant manager uses secret note to ‘rescue’ child, says Orlando Police

The manager of an Orlando restaurant is receiving praise from police after… Continue reading

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will cripple struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

VICTORIA — A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Quebec and Ontario, the two provinces hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,… Continue reading

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. A young snowshoer who set out alone on a rugged mountain trail on Vancouver's north shore Thursday has died. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Snowshoer dies after overnight search on Vancouver-area mountain: RCMP

SQUAMISH, B.C. — A snowshoer who set out alone on a rugged… Continue reading

‘It was joyous:’ Sun returns to some Nunavut communities for first time in weeks

IQALUIT — A sliver of orange rose over Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, earlier… Continue reading

People take photos through the extensive security surrounding the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, ahead of the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Susan Walsh
Less pomp, very different circumstances as D.C. prepares to inaugurate Biden, Harris

WASHINGTON — Some pomp. Very different circumstances. Inauguration day is supposed to… Continue reading

Winnipeg Jets' Nathan Beaulieu (88) and Nikolaj Ehlers (27) defend against Jansen Harkins (12) during scrimmage at their NHL training camp practice in Winnipeg, Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Winnipeg Jets cancel practice due to possible COVID-19 exposure

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have cancelled their practice today due to… Continue reading

Most Read