WASHINGTON — As the House of Representatives met Wednesday to impeach “clear and present danger” US President Donald Trump, Trump broke his silence from the White House only to issue a brief statement insisting on his opposition to violence.
Accused of stoking the mob assault on Congress on January 6, Trump said: “In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind. That is not what I stand for,” he said.
“I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You,” Trump added, without specifically calling for his supporters not to travel to Washington to protest.
Reflecting that fear of upheaval, armed National Guards deployed across the capital and central streets were blocked to traffic.
In the Capitol building itself, guards in full camouflage and carrying assault rifles assembled, some of them grabbing naps early Wednesday under the ornate statues and historical paintings.
The vote, coming seven days ahead of Democrat Joe Biden’s inauguration, made Trump the first US president to have been impeached twice.
Trump’s epic downfall was triggered by his speech to a crowd on the National Mall last week, telling them that Biden had stolen the presidential election and that they needed to march on Congress and show “strength.”
Amped up on weeks of conspiracy theories pushed by Trump, the mob then stormed into the Capitol, fatally wounded one police officer, wrecked furniture and forced terrified lawmakers to hide, interrupting a ceremony to put the legal stamp on Biden’s victory.
One protester was shot dead, and three other people died of “medical emergencies,” bringing the toll to five.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the chamber that Trump “must go.”
“He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” she said.
Earlier, Democratic lawmaker Ilhan Omar branded Trump a “tyrant,” saying that “for us to able to survive as a functioning democracy there has to be accountability.”
But Nancy Mace, a newly-elected Republican congresswoman said that while lawmakers “need to hold the president accountable,” the speed of the impeachment “poses great questions about the constitutionality.”