SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP/CBSNewYork) — Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko said Tuesday he’ll back the impeachment of President Donald Trump, saying it was his duty under the Constitution after Trump incited the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week.
“It cannot be ignored that President Trump encouraged this insurrection, both on social media ahead of January 6th, and in his speech that day,” the former federal prosecutor representing central New York said in a statement. Katko said Trump’s claims that the election had been stolen created “a combustible environment of misinformation, disenfranchisement and division.”
Katko, who was among hundreds of members of Congress locked down for hours while rioters invaded the Capitol on Wednesday, said he didn’t take his decision to impeach lightly.
“To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” he said. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action.”
Two other Republicans, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, also said Tuesday that they’ll join House Democrats who have signed onto an impeachment resolution expected to go to a vote Wednesday.
Katko, who was elected to a fourth term in November, has tried to cultivate an independent brand to reflect the nature of the 24th Congressional District, where Democrats narrowly outnumber Republicans. But he also endorsed Trump’s reelection bid after declining to do so in 2016.
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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says the process to remove the president from office will now go forward, saying, “Donald Trump should not hold office one day longer.”
“If he won’t resign and Vice President Pence and the Cabinet won’t invoke the 25th Amendment, he will be impeached by the House and, as the law requires, tried by the Senate,” Schumer continued.
“The right thing to do is to proceed because Donald Trump is a clear and present danger every second, every minute, every hour that he remains in office,” New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said.
Some Republicans say impeachment goes too far.
New York Rep. Tom Reed tweeted, “The President needs to be held accountable for his actions. Impeachment, however, isn’t the answer.”
In a New York Times op-ed, he said he wants the president censured and says he would also work to find ways for Congress to bar Trump from seeking federal office in the future.
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The House voted Tuesday night on a measure urging Vice President Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office, but the vice president promptly rejected the call.
An impeachment vote is expected to pass the House on Wednesday, but what about a trial in the Senate, which is in recess until Jan. 19?
“The cardinal rule in the United States Senate is the Senate makes the rules,” Hofstra constitutional law professor James Sample told CBS2’s Dick Brennan.
Sample says Mitch McConnell could bring the Senate back if he wants to.
“It’s not a question of whether or not the Senate can come back before the 19th, the question is whether they have the political will to do so,” he said.
CBS2’s Dick Brennan contributed to this report.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)