Democrat momentum to impeach Trump a 2nd time builds as Republican senator criticizes president
Outgoing president committed 'impeachable offenses,' Sen. Pat Toomey says
Democrats' momentum for a fresh drive to quickly impeach outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump gained support Saturday, and a top Republican said the president's role in the deadly riot at the Capitol by a violent mob of Trump supporters was worthy of rebuke.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said he believed Trump had committed "impeachable offenses." But he stopped short of saying whether he would vote to remove the president from office at the conclusion of a Senate trial if the House sent over articles of impeachment.
"I don't know what they are going to send over and one of the things that I'm concerned about, frankly, is whether the House would completely politicize something," Toomey said Saturday on Fox News Channel, speaking of the Democratic-controlled House.
"I do think the president committed impeachable offenses, but I don't know what is going to land on the Senate floor, if anything," Toomey said.
The new Democratic effort to stamp Trump's presidential record — for the second time and days before his term ends — with the indelible mark of impeachment gained momentum Saturday.
Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a leader of the House effort to draft impeachment articles — or charges — accusing Trump of inciting insurrection, said his group had grown to include 185 co-sponsors.
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Lawmakers plan to formally introduce the proposal on Monday in the House, where articles of impeachment must originate. A vote could be possible by Wednesday — exactly one week before president-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated at noon ET on Jan. 20.
A senior administration official on Saturday said U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence will attend Biden's inauguration. On Friday, Trump said he would not attend the inauguration of his successor on Jan. 20.
The articles, if passed by the House, could then be transmitted to the Senate for a trial, with senators acting as jurors who would ultimately vote on whether to acquit or convict Trump. If convicted, Trump would be removed from office and succeeded by the vice president.
'Justice will be done,' Pelosi says
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, shared no details about her party's plans as she addressed her hometown San Francisco constituents during an online video conference on Saturday.
"Justice will be done. Democracy will prevail. And America will be healed," she said. "But it is a decision that we have to make."
A violent and largely white mob of Trump supporters overpowered police, broke through security lines and rampaged through the Capitol on Wednesday, forcing lawmakers to scatter as they were putting the final, formal touches on Biden's victory over Trump in the electoral college.
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The crowd surged to the domed symbol of American democracy following a rally near the White House, where Trump repeated his bogus claims that the election was stolen from him and urged his supporters to march in force toward the Capitol.
Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died as a result of the siege.
"It has been an epiphany for the world to see that there are people in our country led by this president, for the moment, who have chosen their whiteness over democracy," Pelosi said of the attack.
She added: "This cannot be exaggerated. The complicity, not only the complicity, the instigation of the president of United States, must and will be addressed."
No. 4 House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York reiterated support for moving against what he deemed "an act of sedition that was incited and encouraged by Donald Trump."
Speaking of Trump, Jeffries said Saturday: "He should be impeached, convicted and thrown out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and forever banished to the dustbin of history."
Social media crackdown continues as Apple suspends Parler
Outrage over the attack and Trump's role in egging it on capped a divisive, chaotic presidency like few others in the nation's history. There are less than two weeks until Trump is out of office but Democrats have made clear they don't want to wait that long.
Although deprived of his big online megaphones, Trump does have alternative options of much smaller reach, led by the far right-friendly Parler — even if Google and Apple both removed it from their app stores.
Trump may launch his own platform. But that won't happen overnight, and free speech experts anticipate growing pressure on all social media platforms to curb incendiary speech.
Twitter ended Trump's nearly 12-year run on Friday. In shuttering his account it cited a tweet to his 89 million followers that he planned to skip President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration that it said gave rioters license to converge on Washington once again.
Facebook and Instagram have suspended Trump at least until Inauguration Day. Twitch and Snapchat also have disabled Trump's accounts, while Shopify took down online stores affiliated with the president and Reddit removed a Trump subgroup. Twitter also banned Trump loyalists including former national security advisor Michael Flynn in a sweeping purge of accounts promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory and the Capitol insurrection. Some had hundreds of thousands of followers.
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Experts are betting Trump pops up on Parler, a two-year-old magnet for the far right that claims more than 12 million users and where his sons Eric and Don Jr. are already active.
Parler hit headwinds, though, on Friday as Google yanked its smartphone app from its app store for allowing postings that seek "to incite ongoing violence in the U.S."
Apple followed suit on Saturday evening after giving Parler 24 hours to address complaints it was being used to "plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities."
"Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people's safety," Apple said in a statement, saying it was removing the app "until they resolve these issues."
Losing access to the app stores of Google and Apple — whose operating systems power hundreds of millions of smartphones — severely limits Parler's reach, though it will continue to be accessible via web browser. Another potential landing spot for Trump is Gab — though both Google and Apple booted it from their app stores in 2017.