The US House of Representatives has started to debate the impeachment of Donald Trump, the second of his presidency, beginning the proceedings on Wednesday morning with a prayer just days after a violent mob attacked the Capitol.
It comes after the president was accused of inciting the deadly riot with a speech to his supporters in Washington, in which he attacked Congress as it convened to certify the results of the 2020 election.
That speech, as well as the president’s conduct during the riots, which included posting a video to his social media platforms containing flagrant falsities and conspiracy theories of rampant voter fraud, has since become the subject of intense backlash among Democrats and Republicans alike.
The Democratic Party is virtually unified in its calls for the president to be removed from office, with House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer calling on Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment.
Meanwhile, a wave of Republicans began to express their support for impeachment proceedings, both privately and in public statements.
The latest reports published by The New York Times indicated Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, was “pleased” the Democrats were moving forward with impeachment, believing it was the easiest way for the GOP to rid itself of Mr Trump following the end of his presidency.
House GOP chair Liz Cheney, the third-highest ranking Republican lawmaker in the lower chamber, publicly expressed her support for impeachment and said she would vote to remove the president in a statement that alleged Mr Trump “summoned this mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.”
“Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the president,” she said. “The president could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the constitution.”
Some lawmakers began their opening speeches discussing the “murderous mob”, with California Democrat Judy Chu noting the rioters were “holding a noose for vice president Mike Pence” and “targeting House speaker Nancy Pelosi.”
Despite the increasing support for his removal, it remains unclear if the president would be impeached by the Republican-led Senate. At least 17 Republicans would need to join Democrats in order to impeach and convict the president in the upper chamber.