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Republicans wrestle over removing Trump

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NBC News


GOP lawmakers are wrestling with whether to stick with President TrumpDonald TrumpKim says North Korean efforts will focus on bringing US ‘to their knees’ Pelosi urges Democrats to prepare to return to DC this week amid impeachment calls Ken Klippenstein: ‘Ideological’ blindspot kept law enforcement from urgently responding to Capitol riots MORE between now and Jan. 20 as members of his Cabinet consider resigning or invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. 

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump stares down new impeachment threat GOP senator: Trump ‘committed impeachable offenses’ Murkowski says she is not considering joining Democratic caucus MORE of Alaska became the first Republican senator to call on Trump to resign, declaring on Friday afternoon that “he has caused enough damage.”

“I want him to resign. I want him out,” she told the Anchorage Daily News.

A day later, Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Appeals court rules NSA’s bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE (R-Pa.), who is retiring at the end of 2022, said Trump’s actions rise to the level of impeachment.

“I do think the president committed impeachable offenses,” Toomey told Fox News during an interview.

Murkowski and Toomey’s comments put pressure on Republican centrists, such as Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe fight for the Latino vote has just begun Dershowitz says he’d defend Trump again in impeachment trial Member of Senate GOP leadership: Impeaching Trump ‘not going to happen’ MORE (Utah) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret Collins50-50 Senate opens the door to solutions outlasting Trump’s moment of violence Republican senators now regret not doing more to contain Trump Here’s why Manchin, Romney and Collins are about to wield serious Senate power MORE (Maine), who as of Saturday night had not addressed whether Trump should step down or be removed from office.

Romney, the only Republican senator to vote to convict Trump on an article of impeachment in February, accused Trump of inciting a mob of supporters to storm the Capitol while Congress was counting the vote of the Electoral College on Wednesday.

Rep. Garrett Graves (R-La.) on Friday called for Trump to step back from the duties of his office, though he said he did not support impeaching the president or invoking the 25th Amendment.

“He effectively needs to resign. And what I mean by that is, effectively, he will not be out there talking, speaking, wielding the full authority and power of the White House, maybe even technically finding a way to hand over the keys to [Vice President] Pence,” he said.

Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseGOP senator: Trump ‘committed impeachable offenses’ Murkowski says she is not considering joining Democratic caucus McConnell circulates procedures for second Senate impeachment trial of Trump MORE (R-Neb.), a prominent conservative and potential presidential candidate in 2024, said Thursday he would consider voting to convict Trump on an article of impeachment — something he voted against less than a year ago when House Democrats impeached Trump, charging him with abuse of power and obstructing justice.

“If they come together and have a process, I will definitely consider whatever articles they might move, because as I told you I believe the president has disregarded his oath of office,” Sasse said in an interview on “CBS This Morning.”

“He swore an oath to the American people to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. He acted against that,” Sasse said. “What he did was wicked.” 

Sasse later said he was angry that Trump appeared “delighted” by images of rioters flooding past security to disrupt the counting of electoral votes.

“As this was unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building,” Sasse told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt in an interview. “That was happening. He was delighted.”

“I’m sure you’ve also had conversations with other senior White House officials, as I have,” Sasse told Hewitt.

Particularly damaging to Trump was a clip that emerged showing him and his family in a festive mood watching video monitors of the pro-Trump mob gathered around the Capitol with the party song “Gloria” blaring.

The video filmed by Donald Trump Jr. showed his girlfriend Kimberly GuilfoyleKimberly GuilfoyleRepublicans wrestle over removing Trump Singer Taylor Dayne responds to criticism after Mar-a-Lago performance: ‘I try to stay non-political’ Donald Trump Jr. tests positive for COVID-19 MORE dancing and urging viewers to fight, with an enthusiastic White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsPressure grows on Trump to leave The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump finally concedes; 25th Amendment pressure grows GOP senators urging Trump officials to not resign after Capitol chaos MORE flashing a thumbs up shortly before rioters overran Capitol Police and ransacked Senate and House offices.

In the background, the president and his daughter Ivanka TrumpIvanka TrumpThe Hill’s Morning Report – Trump finally concedes; 25th Amendment pressure grows Ivanka Trump urges ‘patriots’ storming Capitol to ‘stop immediately’ in now-deleted tweet Five GOP contenders — other than Trump — for 2024 MORE, a senior White House adviser, could be seen intently watching coverage of the crowd.

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House Democrats are threatening to impeach Trump before Inauguration Day if he does not resign or if he isn’t removed by the 25th Amendment.

Pelosi said Friday evening that if Trump does not step down immediately she has instructed the House Rules Committee to advance a motion to impeach him. She said the House would also pass legislation to create a commission to declare the president is unable to discharge the duties of his office.

On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Republicans are now preparing for the possibility of a second Trump impeachment trial.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSirota weighs in on what Democrats are likely to do with Senate majority Trump stares down new impeachment threat GOP senator: Trump ‘committed impeachable offenses’ MORE (R-Ky.) on Friday circulated to colleagues a memo outlining how the Senate would proceed if the House approves articles of impeachment and transmits them to the upper chamber before or by Jan. 19, when senators are scheduled to resume regular business after the January recess.

McConnell said the most likely scenario if the House impeaches Trump is for the Senate to receive a message from the lower chamber notifying it of the action on Jan. 19. That would then give the Senate the option of ordering the House managers to present those articles on the same day.

Two members of Trump’s Cabinet have already stepped down after Wednesday’s violence: Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine ChaoSunday shows preview: Riots roil Washington as calls for Trump’s removal grow Top Trump official rescinds then reissues resignation letter to say departure is in protest Cuomo: ‘I call on President Trump to resign’ MORE, who is married to McConnell, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosSunday shows preview: Riots roil Washington as calls for Trump’s removal grow Top Trump official rescinds then reissues resignation letter to say departure is in protest Cuomo: ‘I call on President Trump to resign’ MORE.

“We should be highlighting and celebrating your administration’s many accomplishments on behalf of the American people,” DeVos wrote in her letter to Trump. “Instead, we are left to clean up the mess caused by violent protesters overrunning the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to undermine the people’s business.”

“That behavior was unconscionable for our country,” she wrote. “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”

The biggest question going forward is whether McConnell, who is now seen as the primary political compass for Senate Republicans, will call on Trump to step down.

“McConnell has an ability to get Republican senators to do things. He has many levers and your relationship with the leader is important,” said one Republican senator who requested anonymity to discuss how GOP senators will handle the political fallout from Wednesday’s violence on Capitol Hill that left five people dead.

McConnell was credited by GOP senators for largely quashing a push to object to electoral votes for Biden after delivering two powerful speeches on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Only six GOP senators voted to reject the electoral slate from Arizona and seven voted to reject the slate from Pennsylvania, a striking contrast from how Republicans voted in the House, where those challenges garnered 121 and 138 votes, respectively.

Other Senate Republicans say they’re still fearful of Trump’s ability to wield power within the Republican base, noting that he still won 74.2 million votes on Election Day.

Trump suffered a major setback on that front Friday when Twitter permanently suspended his account, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.”

A second Republican senator who requested anonymity to discuss Trump’s influence with voters said his office was flooded with calls from constituents demanding that the senator vote to support objections to Biden’s electoral votes.

“Some of my friends are saying the talk back home is bad for you,” said the lawmaker, who voted against sustaining objections to the votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania. 

“They’re agitated about it,” the lawmaker said of Republicans back home.

Many GOP lawmakers, however, are sticking with Trump.

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeLawmakers, leaders offer condolences following the death of Capitol Police officer GOP senators urging Trump officials to not resign after Capitol chaos Senate should press Biden national security nominees MORE (Utah), the chairman of the Senate Republican Steering Committee, contacted national security adviser Robert O’Brien and White House counsel Pat Cipollone to ask them not to resign before Trump leaves office.

Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntTrump stares down new impeachment threat Sunday shows preview: Riots roil Washington as calls for Trump’s removal grow Ari Fleischer says Trump ‘on his own’ after Capitol riot: ‘I won’t defend him anymore’ MORE (R-Mo.) predicted Friday that Republicans would reject any articles of impeachment swiftly passed by the House, telling a Missouri television station that the Senate voting to remove Trump from office was “not going to happen.”

Jordain Carney contributed.

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