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China Daily Global / 2021-01 / 14 / Page001

Trump calls push for impeachment 'ridiculous'

By AI HEPING in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-01-14 00:00

US President Donald Trump criticized Democrats in the House of Representatives on Tuesday for seeking to impeach him for allegedly inciting the riot at the Capitol last week, but cracks emerged in the president's party, with several Republicans now turning against him before a vote on a historic second impeachment.

Trump said the impeachment effort is a "continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics" and that it was "causing tremendous anger". He made the remarks to reporters on Tuesday before boarding Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland for a trip to the US-Mexico border wall near Alamo, Texas.

They were his first public comments since Jan 6, when the Capitol was overrun by protesters after Trump gave a speech near the White House in which he urged thousands of backers to march on Congress to pressure legislators to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

In Alamo, Trump dismissed Democrats' calls for Vice-President Mike Pence and Trump's Cabinet to declare him unfit for office and remove him from power using the 25th Amendment of the Constitution.

"On the impeachment, it's really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics. It's ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous," Trump said. "This impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you're doing it, and it's really a terrible thing that they're doing."

Asked by reporters whether he held any "personal responsibility "for the riot at the Capitol, Trump said that "people thought that what I said was totally appropriate".

On Tuesday evening, the House approved a resolution that set a 24-hour deadline for Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, though Pence had already said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that he would not employ it, and that he didn't think it was "in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution".

The resolution, passed 223-205 almost entirely along party lines, urged him to "declare what is obvious to a horrified Nation: That the President is unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of his office".

With Pence's refusal to invoke the amendment, the House was set to vote on Wednesday on its second impeachment of Trump.

Some Republican lawmakers said they would vote to impeach Trump, cleaving the Republican leadership and the party itself.

Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No 3 Republican leader in the House, said in a statement, "The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.

"There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution."

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that "according to people familiar with his thinking", Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader in the Senate, has told associates that he believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party.

The Times also reported in that article on Tuesday that according to three Republican officials briefed on the conversations, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader and one of Trump's steadfast allies in Congress, has asked other Republicans whether he should call on Trump to resign in the aftermath of the riot at the Capitol. There was no comment on the report from either McConnell or McCarthy.

The article of impeachment introduced in the House on Monday and backed by more than 200 Democrats accuses Trump of "incitement of insurrection" and says he "gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government".

Though the Democrat-controlled House is expected to impeach Trump for a second time and send its article of impeachment to the Senate, a trial of Trump in the Senate is not expected to be held until after he leaves office on Jan 20.

At the border with Mexico, Trump autographed a plaque for the border wall and told a small group of Border Patrol agents and others that "we inherited a broken, dysfunctional and open border. Everybody was pouring in at will".

The editorial board of the Houston Chronicle expressed displeasure at Trump's visit, writing: "Trump seeks to use our conservative state, which he won in November with 52 percent of the vote, as a backdrop to lend a veil of normalcy to the last days of his failed presidency. It's the basest kind of political theater-and it's not welcome."

Chen Yingqun in Beijing and May Zhou in Houston contributed to this story.

People supporting the impeachment of US President Donald Trump gather in Washington, DC, on Tuesday. PAUL MORIGI/GETTY IMAGES

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