Katko becomes first Republican to say he’ll vote to impeach Trump
Rep. John Katko (N.Y.) became the first Republican lawmaker to say publicly that he will vote to impeach President Trump over his role in inciting a violent mob to storm the Capitol last week.
Katko said in a statement that he intends to join with Democrats on Wednesday when they vote to impeach Trump on a single article of “willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”
Shortly after Katko released his statement, GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said that they would also vote for impeachment.
Republicans have been gauging support for the impeachment article amid speculation that a number of moderate GOP lawmakers could vote against Trump.
“To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko said in the statement. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action. I will vote to impeach this president.”
“It cannot be ignored that President Trump encouraged this insurrection – both on social media ahead of January 6th, and in his speech that day,” Katko added. “By deliberately promoting baseless theories suggesting the election was somehow stolen, the president created a combustible environment of misinformation, disenfranchisement, and division. When this manifested in violent acts on January 6th, he refused to promptly and forcefully call it off, putting countless lives in danger.”
Katko’s statement was first reported by Syracuse.com. Katko is the co-chair of the Tuesday Group, a caucus of moderate Republican House members, and represents a district Hillary Clinton won by 3 points in 2016.
The New York Republican’s statement comes amid fury from lawmakers in both parties over the president’s comments leading up to the mob that stormed the Capitol last week.
Five people, including a police officer and a rioter who was shot in the skirmish, were killed, and lawmakers who had gathered to certify the presidential election results were forced to shelter in a secure location.
During his remarks, Trump spoke to a throng of supporters to reiterate his unfounded claims that the presidential election was fraudulently “stolen” from him, telling the crowd “you have to show strength” and “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Those remarks have led to a flood of criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who said Trump bears some responsibility for last week’s mayhem.
House Democrats on Monday introduced their article of impeachment and are anticipated to pass it Wednesday, which would mark the first time a president has been impeached two separate times during his tenure. The president was first impeached in December 2019 for using U.S. aid to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate now-President-elect Joe Biden.
No House Republicans joined on to Trump’s first impeachment and Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) was the only Republican senator to vote to convict the president, but a number of GOP lawmakers in both chambers have already called on Trump to resign over last week’s riot, raising the prospect that some could jump the aisle to vote to impeach and convict.
The riot and impeachment have put GOP lawmakers in a bind, on the one hand looking to keep the support of a base that still supports the president and on the other looking to issue some kind of reprimand over the bedlam Trump helped fuel.
“I’ll vote the right way, you know, if I’m presented with that,” Kinzinger said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” the day before House Democrats introduced the article of impeachment. “I just think it’s probably not the smartest move right now, but I think that’s going to be out of my hands.”
Cheney, a top GOP Trump critic who opposed efforts by those in her party to overturn the certification of Biden’s election victory, became the first member of GOP leadership to signal that they would support the impeachment effort.
Among those who are being closely watched as other potential “yes” votes are Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), another Tuesday Group co-chair, as well as Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told House Republicans on a Monday conference call he opposed impeachment, though no formal whip effort against impeachment is believed to be underway among Republicans.
It is unclear how much support there will be among Senate Republicans for a conviction, but The New York Times reported Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has told people that he thinks Trump committed impeachable offenses.
Trump defended the remarks he made last week, telling reporters Tuesday they were “totally appropriate.”
Updated at 6:28 p.m.
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