Liz Cheney, the third-highest-ranking Republican leader in the House, has said she will vote to impeach the president on Wednesday, as a growing cohort of Republicans back efforts to hold Donald Trump accountable for inciting the attack on the US Capitol last week.
In a strongly worded statement released on Tuesday, Cheney, a representative from Wyoming and the daughter of the former vice-president Dick Cheney, said that Trump had “summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack”.
“Everything that followed was his doing,” she said. “None of this would have happened without the president. I will vote to impeach the president.”
Cheney was joined on Tuesday by the Washington representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, New York representative John Katko, the Illinois representative Adam Kinzinger, and representative Fred Upton, of Michigan, who all said they would vote for impeachment..
The House is set to start impeachment proceedings against Trump on Wednesday.
The president faces a single impeachment charge, “incitement to insurrection”, for his actions ahead of the mob attack on the Capitol. If a majority of House members vote to charge Trump, he will become the first president to be impeached twice. The timetable for an ensuing Senate trial is uncertain.
Herrera Beutler accused Trump of failing to do anything meaningful for hours to stop the Capitol attack, before issuing a “pathetic denouncement of the violence that also served as a nod and a wink to those who perpetuated it.”
“I understand the argument that the best course is not to further inflame the country or alienate Republican voters. But I am a Republican voter … I see that my own party will be best served when those among us choose truth,” she added.
Kinzinger said on Tuesday that Trump was responsible for whipping up “an angry mob”, leaving five dead. He said “there is no doubt in my mind” that Trump “broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection”.
Katko, meanwhile, said that Congress was “tasked with holding the executive accountable” and that “country always comes first”.
Katko, a former federal prosecutor, said he had not made the decision lightly, adding: “To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy. I cannot sit by without taking action.”
Cheney, a staunch conservative and a ranking Republican in Congress, could give cover to other Republicans who want to vote to impeach.
A handful of senior GOP figures have already in recent days joined calls for Trump to go. And, crucially, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, indicated to associates that he believes Trump deserves to be impeached, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, with the Kentucky Republican thinking it would make it easier for the party to purge him, as a liability.
The New York Times further reported that the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, had toyed variously with asking Trump to resign, supporting impeachment and considering a vote to censure the president.
Cheney has previously fallen into Trump’s crosshairs after opposing his efforts to invalidate the election results. At his rally in Washington DC before Congress’s vote to certify the election results, Trump told supporters: “The Liz Cheneys of the world. We have to get rid of them.”
The explicit support of three Republicans for Wednesday’s vote stands in contrast to Trump’s first impeachment in 2019, which followed his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his election rival, Joe Biden. At that time, no House Republicans voted in support of the two impeachment charges brought against Trump, and only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, voted to convict the president on one article of impeachment during a Senate trial.
An increasingly isolated Trump has shown no remorse for last week’s attack and has attempted to shift the blame onto Democrats.