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House Members Impeach Trump A 2nd Time, Citing Insurrection At Capitol

TONYA MOSLEY, HOST:

President Trump has been impeached for a second time. This time, the charge is inciting an insurrection. Yesterday started with hours of debate on the floor of the House of Representatives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened the session, saying months of doubt sown over the election by Trump culminated in last week's riot.

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NANCY PELOSI: And then came that day a fire we all experienced. The president must be impeached, and I believe the president must be convicted by the Senate, a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the republic will be safe from this man who was so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear and that hold us together.

MOSLEY: But Republicans, for the most part, stood by the president. Here's Representative Jason Smith.

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JASON SMITH: The people are hurting. Our colleagues are hurting. This is a reckless impeachment. This will only bring up the hate and fire more than ever before.

MOSLEY: Ten Republicans broke with their party to support impeachment, including Representative Dan Newhouse.

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DAN NEWHOUSE: Last week, there was a domestic threat at the door of the Capitol, and he did nothing to stop it. That is why with a heavy heart and clear resolve, I will vote yes on these articles of impeachment.

(APPLAUSE)

MOSLEY: And just before 5 p.m., the House concluded its historic vote to impeach the president. The article will now make its way to the Senate, which will not reconvene until next week. And congressional correspondent Susan Davis is here to walk us through what happens now. And Sue, what happens now? What's - what do we know about what's next for a Senate trial?

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Well, Speaker Nancy Pelosi's already named the impeachment managers, and they'll be led by Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin, who's a constitutional lawyer. We know for certain the trial will not start before Inauguration Day. Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined a request by incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to start early. And it's going to jam up the schedule. You know, some Senate Democrats are trying to get through an agenda, and they want to be able to get Joe Biden's Cabinet filled out pretty quickly. So it's going to be complicated. They are, however, hoping for a swift trial. And remember, the first Trump impeachment trial in the Senate took just three weeks.

MOSLEY: As I mentioned, 10 Republicans broke with the Trump - with Trump to support impeachment in the House. What's the vote look like in the Senate?

DAVIS: Well, loyalty to the president doesn't run as deep in the Senate. Notably, The New York Times reported, citing anonymous sources, that Mitch McConnell was pleased with impeachment. His office did not deny that report. Yesterday, he sent a letter to his Republican colleagues saying he would not commit to how he would vote until he heard the legal arguments. That, of course, cracks the door to this idea that he could be a vote to convict. It would take 17 Republicans to convict the president if all 50 Democrats voted that way. We do not believe that those votes exist today, but Raskin told NPR yesterday he sees, in his words, irresistible momentum to a conviction.

One of the big unknowns is who's going to defend the president in the trial and how effective that defense is going to be in persuading Senate Republicans to stick with him. Trump himself hasn't spoken about impeachment. He put out a statement in a video last night in which he condemned the violence and urged people to be calm, but again did not acknowledge his own role in last week's events.

MOSLEY: I want to ask you about something else. The third highest-ranking House Republican, Liz Cheney, was the most notable Republican among the 10 to break with Trump. Will there be political ramifications, do you think, for this vote?

DAVIS: There could be. The Freedom Caucus, which is a group of hard-right conservatives in the House, is trying to force her out of her leadership job. She says she's not going anywhere. There is a process in House Republican rules that would allow them to try. It would be a vote by a secret ballot. And if it does come to a vote, it could be a signal about which way this party's going. If Cheney's ousted from leadership, it would certainly strengthen the Trump wing. But if she can survive a possible challenge, it would suggest that more Republicans are, than they're willing to admit publicly, are ready to move on from him.

MOSLEY: One more thing - there was a lot of security at the Capitol itself yesterday. National Guard troops are everywhere. There are some new measures put in place this week, but several Republicans have objected to those. What's the latest there?

DAVIS: Well, Democrats are putting in place new measures for masks and metal detectors. At least three Democrats have tested positive for coronavirus since sheltering in place last week with some Republicans who refused to wear masks. Democrats have now instituted a fine system if they don't wear them on the floor - $500 for the first offense and $2,500 for the second. They're also going to put fines in place if members don't comply with metal detectors, and those fines will be taken from their paychecks.

MOSLEY: Oh, wow. That's NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis.

Thank you.

DAVIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.