Trump-Biden transition updates: House votes for 25th Amendment; Pence won’t act
By LIBBY CATHEY, KENNEDEY BELL and LAUREN KING, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in eight days.
Here is how the scene is unfolding. All times Eastern:
Jan 12, 11:49 pm
House passes 25th Amendment resolution, Pence said he won’t act
The House voted 223-205, on H.Res. 21, which calls on Vice President Mike Pence to exercise his power under the 25th Amendment to convene the Cabinet and remove President Donald Trump from office.
“He is not protecting and defending the democracy itself, the process of electing the president. He is not respecting the peaceful transfer of power,” Rep. Jamie Raskin D-Md. said of Trump during the hearing Tuesday night. “He is not taking care that the laws are faithfully executed. He is not protecting the republic against mob insurrection, invasion and hostility.”
One Republican, Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, voted in favor of the symbolic measure.
It is a nonbinding resolution that carries no force of the law.
Pence already Tuesday said he will not invoke the 25th Amendment.
“Last week I did not yield to pressure to exert power beyond my constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election, and I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation,” Pence said in a letter Tuesday.
Democrats are expected to vote in an article of impeachment against Trump Wednesday. At least four Republicans have said they will vote to impeach Trump.
Jan 12, 9:45 pm
House debating resolution on 25th Amendment
The House is now debating the merits of the resolution that calls on Vice President Mike Pence and members of the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment.
Given Pence’s announcement earlier that he is not going to do so, this debate and vote are considered to be largely symbolic.
Members will be debating for one hour, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. The final vote on the resolution is expected to begin by 10:30 p.m.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., kicked off the debate. Raskin authored the 25th Amendment resolution.
During a procedural vote ahead of the debate, the House voted to authorize fines against lawmakers who don’t wear masks on the House floor: $500 for a first offense, $2,500 for the next. It gets taken out of their paychecks.
Jan 12, 9:11 pm
Rep. Torres tells ABC News about coping with trauma and wanting justice
Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., told ABC’s Nightline that 12 of the representatives who were locked down during the Capitol siege Wednesday are in a group chat to “to help each other heal.”
“We’ve been working with each other through this process of healing ourselves,” said Torres. “It’s incredible that we survived.”
Torres, who immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala when she was 5 years old, said that Trump’s decision to visit the border wall in El Paso, Texas, rather than address the Capitol riots or ongoing pandemic, was personally hurtful.
“The president of the United States chooses to close out his four-year term by continuing to incite racism, promote racism and incite violence against Americans like myself,” she said.
On Wednesday, Torres made an emotional plea on the House floor to Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office.
“It is not about my life. It is not about his life. Members of Congress come and go. So will presidents and vice presidents. But our Constitution is to stand in,” she told ABC News after her passionate speech. “Our democracy is worth it, (it) is worth upholding. And this is the moment where courage under fire means something.”
Jan 12, 8:41 pm
Some Republicans angry about metal detectors at entrance to House floor
As the House begins voting Tuesday evening, some Republican members are furious about the installation of metal detectors, accusing Democrats of trying to score political points and diverting Capitol Police resources.
When Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., the top Republican on the Committee on House Administration, complained to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in front of reporters, Hoyer said, “Rodney, we’re all going through magnetometers.”
Davis shot back, “I just went through one. You know the threat on the interior side of the building. You’re taking valuable resources completely away from where it needs to be, and you did it without any consultation with the minority.”
“Don’t touch me,” Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., said to a Capitol Police officer.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., a conservative whose insistence on carrying a gun around Capitol Hill has alarmed Democrats — and some members of her own party — refused to allow Capitol Police officers to search her bag. After a couple of minutes she was allowed into the chamber, but it’s not clear if she was searched, according to pool reporters on the scene.
-ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel
Jan 12, 8:05 pm
Pence tells Pelosi he won’t invoke 25th Amendment
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Mike Pence said he would not invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the president.
“I am grateful for the leadership that you and other congressional leaders provided in reconvening Congress to complete the people’s business on the very same day. It was a moment that demonstrated to the American people the unity that is still possible in Congress when it is needed most,” he wrote. “But now, with just eight days left in the President’s term, you and the Democratic Caucus are demanding that the Cabinet and I invoke the 25th Amendment. I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution.”
He continued, “Last week I did not yield to pressure to exert power beyond my constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election, and I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation.”
In conclusion, he urged Pelosi and members of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment.
“Work with us to lower the temperature and unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. I pledge to you that I will continue to do my part to work in good faith with the incoming administration to ensure an orderly transition of power. So help me God,” he wrote.
Jan 12, 6:59 pm
House debates resolution pushing Pence, Cabinet to invoke 25th Amendment
The House of Representatives is debating a resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office over his role in last week’s attack on the Capitol.
With Democrats holding a majority in the chamber, the measure is expected to pass. However, Pence given no public indication that he plans to take action.
Democrats are expected, then, to move forward with impeaching Trump on one article — charging him with “inciting an insurrection.” At least 218 Democrats and three House Republicans have indicated their support to impeach the president.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls for a moment of silence on the House floor “in honor and remembrance of the dedication and service of the fallen United States Capitol Police officers, Brian D. Sicknick and Howard Liebengood.” https://t.co/IThgTzBSTi pic.twitter.com/9riaHkWLYi
— ABC News (@ABC) January 12, 2021
-ABC News’ Mariam Khan
Jan 12, 6:32 pm
House Judiciary Committee releases impeachment report
The House Judiciary Committee has released a 76-page staff report laying out Democrats’ case for impeaching Trump over his role in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol last week.
“President Trump has falsely asserted he won the 2020 presidential election and repeatedly sought to overturn the results of the election. As his efforts failed again and again, President Trump continued a parallel course of conduct that foreseeably resulted in the imminent lawless actions of his supporters, who attacked the Capitol and the Congress. This course of conduct, viewed within the context of his past actions and other attempts to subvert the presidential election, demonstrate that President Trump remains a clear and present danger to the Constitution and our democracy,” an excerpt from the report reads.
“The House must reject this outrageous attempt to overturn the election and this incitement of violence by a sitting president against his own government. President Trump committed a high Crime and Misdemeanor against the Nation by inciting an insurrection at the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential Election,” it concludes.
The House is expected to vote to impeach Trump as early as Wednesday — making him the first president in history to be impeached twice.
-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders
Jan 12, 6:28 pm
McConnell believes Trump committed impeachable offenses
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has privately acknowledged he believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing it will make it easier for the Republican Party to be rid of Trump, a source confirmed to ABC News.
The New York Times first reported the development.
McConnell has not said publicly whether he’d vote to impeach Trump and a McConnell spokesman declined to comment.
At least three House Republicans — Rep. Liz Cheney, Wyo., Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y. and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. — have said they will vote to impeach the president.
-ABC News’ Trish Turner
Jan 12, 5:47 pm
GOP Rep. Liz Cheney: ‘I will vote to impeach the President’
House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney — the No. 3 Republican in the House and highest-ranking woman in the Republican Party — has announced she will vote to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection at the Capitol.
“Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough,” she said in a statement. “The President of the United States 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. 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,” she said.
Her announcement follows Republican Rep. John Katko of New York becoming the first House Republican to say he will support House Democrats’ efforts to remove Trump from office through impeachment.
Jan 12, 5:42 pm
1st House Republican says he’ll vote to impeach Trump
Republican Rep. John Katko of New York has released a statement saying he will vote to impeach Trump — becoming the first Republican to publicly voice an expected vote to remove the president from office.
Katko joins at least 218 House Democrats who have signed onto a resolution charging Trump with inciting an insurrection. A House vote could happen as early as Wednesday, one week before Biden’s inauguration at the Capitol.
“To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko said in the statement. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action. I will vote to impeach this president.”
No House Republicans voted to impeach Trump in 2019.
-ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel
Jan 12, 5:29 pm
First confirmation hearing for Biden Cabinet nominee scheduled
The first confirmation hearing for one of Biden’s Cabinet pick is officially on the Senate schedule for the day before his inauguration — which is also the earliest day the Senate is likely to accept an impeachment article against Trump from the House.
Department of Homeland Secretary nominee Alejandro Mayorkas’ hearing will be at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee announced Tuesday.
In the wake of the siege on the Capitol, the incoming Biden administration is making a push to prioritize confirmations for national security nominees, so those officials may assume their roles as early as next week.
Traditionally, the Senate has confirmed national security nominees on Inauguration Day, and did so for Department of Homeland Security secretary nominees in both 2009 and 2017.
Jan 12, 5:23 pm
Capitol Police add metal detectors to the House chamber
Capitol Police have added new security measures to the House of Representatives — requiring that all members and staff go through metal detectors before they enter the chamber, according to a new memo sent to offices by the acting House Sergeant at Arms.
The memo comes ahead of a vote Tuesday evening on a resolution pressing Vice President Mike Pence to mobilize the Cabinet and invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
Currently, visitors and staff are screened when they enter the Capitol building, but members of Congress are not. There are already metal detectors in place for visitors to the House galleries, which had been shuttered since March because of the pandemic.
Several lawmakers continue to worry about their safety in the wake of last week’s Capitol riot — and Democrats in control of the chamber have expressed concerns about some GOP colleagues and their alleged connections to the organizers. Some Republicans, most notably Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo. have been outspoken about carrying weapons around the Capitol.
“Failure to complete screening or the carrying of prohibited items could result in denial of access to the Chamber,” acting Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodget wrote in the memo.
-ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel and Mariam Khan
Jan 12, 4:49 pm
Trump warns against Biden reversing his immigration policies
Aside from Trump’s comments on the 25th Amendment, impeachment and last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, the president’s remarks alongside the border wall were notable in that he spoke — both in tone and content — as if he had accepted the end of his presidency was near.
His speech Tuesday reflected an attempt to spend one of his final days in office focused on highlighting what he believes are his accomplishments as president with his signature promise to build a wall among them.
Tump also warned that a “tidal wave” of undocumented immigrants would head toward the United States if his immigration policies are reversed.
“We can’t let the next administration even think about taking it down,” Trump said, referring to the barrier, although Biden has said he would not dismantle existing barrier — just stop further construction.
“At this very moment, smugglers and coyotes are preparing to surge the border if our policies are loosened or removed,” Trump said. However, Customs and Border Protection chief Mark Morgan told ABC News just a few weeks ago, “the in-flows [of immigrants at the border] have basically slowed to a trickle.”
-ABC News’ Quinn Owen, Ben Gittleson and John Parkinson
Jan 12, 3:59 pm
Trump tells Dems: ‘Be careful what you wish for’
At the top of his remarks in Alamo, Texas, after making brief comments about the strength of the border wall, the president addressed the riot at the Capitol — remarking that it “has been a difficult year and a difficult election.”
“Free speech is under assault like never before,” Trump said — calling the latest impeachment effort a “hoax” but threatening the efforts to remove him from office could haunt Biden.
“The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me, but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration,” Trump said. “As the expression goes, ‘Be careful what you wish for.”‘
“Millions of our citizens watched last Wednesday as a mob stormed the Capitol and trashed the halls of government. As I have consistently said throughout my administration, we believe in respecting America’s history and traditions — not tearing them down,” Trump said, reading from a teleprompter.
“We believe in the rule of law, not violence or rioting,” he said, going on to describe the pandemic landscape. “This has been a difficult year and a very difficult election. The pandemic has made it a very, very difficult year for our country and virtually every country around the world. Now is the time for our nation to heal — it is the time for peace and calm.”
“Respect for law and law enforcement — so many are here — is the foundation of the MAGA agenda, and we are a nation of law and order. That is why we are here today: to talk about what we must do to uphold the rule of law in America and how we must continue to support our law enforcement heroes, which is exactly what you are,” Trump said.
At the same time as Trump spoke, acting U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin announced that more serious indictments against some already charged in the violent Capitol siege were imminent and said there were “pipe bombs” found outside the Capitol Wednesday.
JUST IN: Acting U.S. Attorney on charges against members of pro-Trump mob who stormed U.S. Capitol: “We’re looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy… that have felonies with prison terms of up to 20 years.” https://t.co/KglBhqp2ye pic.twitter.com/6qISc2LKGS
— ABC News (@ABC) January 12, 2021
Before Tump’s remarks, Trump walked slowly to the border wall, lined with American flags. He bantered with border officials speaking as he gazed upon the wall before he approached a plaque and signed it.
-ABC News’ John Parkinson and Ben Gittleson
Jan 12, 3:17 pm
House Republican leaders not whipping Trump impeachment vote
House GOP leadership will not be encouraging members to vote for or against Democrats’ impeachment push Wednesday or on a resolution later Tuesday calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, according to House leadership aides.
House Leader Kevin McCarthy has already announced that he does not support impeachment, but sources tell ABC News that it’s possible some Republicans may vote to impeach Trump.
On a private House GOP-wide conference call that lasted roughly two hours on Monday evening, GOP Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the chamber, told members that they should “vote their conscience” and not as a “political vote,” sources familiar confirm.
Cheney has not said if she will support the article of impeachment against Trump, but is not a Trump loyalist and has already shown she is not afraid to split with the party.
-ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel and Mariam Khan
Jan 12, 3:08 pm
Emotional exchanges from House Dems debating resolution on 25th Amendment
The House Rules Committee is in recess for a meeting to tee up a resolution that will be voted on the House floor later Tuesday which seeks to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office.
While Pence has not indicated publicly what he intends to do, and it’s not expected he will take action — making the resolution’s expected passage largely symbolic — House Democrats will go forth in considering a single article of impeachment Wednesday.
Democrats in the committee rehashed painful, devastating memories to highlight their concerns and rage and exasperation, explaining why they want to make sure Trump is held fully accountable for inciting the riot.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md,, said he was there with his daughter and son-in-law. His family showed up to support him just one day after burying Raskin’s son.
“This is not just a crisis and an emergency. It is a continuing crisis and emergency. It is not over yet,” Raskin said. “Can we say that we feel safe being in the hands of this president, with the horror and the threats returning to our nation’s Capitol?”
Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., described cowering in the House chamber. Hiding under her chair, struggling to put on an escape hood, she called her daughter, telling her, “I’m running for my life” before quickly hanging up.
“Trump incited this attack and there should be no question as to what Vice President Pence needs to do right now,” she said. “I heard the shots being fired. I saw the smoke from the tear gas being been deployed. And I watched one officer with no equipment face a raging mob just outside the chamber. We crawled across the entire length of that balcony.”
Democrats repeatedly implored Republicans to admit the election was fair and free, and Republicans scolded Democrats for, they say, seeking to divide the country further with a second impeachment.
-ABC News’ Mariam Khan
Jan 12, 1:34 pm
Dems scold Rep. Jim Jordan for continuing to question Biden’s win
In an ongoing House Rules Committee hearing about the resolution to call on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, Democrats are pushing back on GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio for continuing to suggest the 2020 election should be investigated for fraud.
When Committee Chair James McGovern, D-Mass., asked Jordan if he will concede that the election was not stolen, Jordan repeated Biden was the president-elect but wouldn’t say if, in his view, Biden won fairly.
“If we want to talk about healing, we have to talk about truth.”
In extended back-and-forth, House Rules Committee Chair James McGovern presses GOP Rep. Jim Jordan to rebuke baseless election claims and state that “Joe Biden won fair and square.” https://t.co/4AAqg0EWFR pic.twitter.com/8AYJi4XtIA
— ABC News (@ABC) January 12, 2021
“He won the election because the way the process works is the last chance to object is Jan. 6, and the objection didn’t prevail,” Jordan said.
“If we want to talk about healing, we have to talk about truth,” McGovern interjected in a contentious exchange. “And if we want to talk about healing, we have to deal with the issue of accountability.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who authored the resolution, at one point asked if there’s anything Trump could possibly do that would cause Jim Jordan to not defend him.
Rep. Jamie Raskin on Rep. Jim Jordan: “Is there anything the president can do that would cause Mr. Jordan not to defend him?” https://t.co/MDOYkMZRsA pic.twitter.com/DNk16ANf2S
— ABC News (@ABC) January 12, 2021
“Even after a mob of violent insurrectionists staged a gallows outside of the Congress and chanted, ‘Hang Mike Pence,’ even though they tried to force Mike Pence not to do his job, even after five people are dead, we continue to hear these lies and slurs about the 2020 presidential election,” Raskin said.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo, also directly asked Jordan, “Joe Biden won the election, yes or no?”
“Yes, he won. But there are serious problems with this election that deserve an investigation,” Jordan said, continuing to air his grievances until Perlmutter interrupted, “I asked you a yes or no question. Please! We’re trying to bring this nation back together. Jim, please!”
Jordan, a Trump loyalist, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump in a closed ceremony at the White House on Monday.
Jan 12, 12:29 pm
Democratic leaders call meetings amid security concerns
House leadership is currently meeting with the United States Capitol Police’s acting police chief and the new House Sergeant at Arms to discuss security concerns and threats related to Capitol Hill following the Jan. 6 riot, a top Democratic House aide tells ABC News.
The aide said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the meeting, which includes Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who chairs the House Administration Committee overseeing House security, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., among others in leadership.
Later Tuesday, there will be an all-senators briefing on inauguration security. The briefing will not occur in person.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer notified senators of the briefing, which will include representatives from the Secret Service, Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security, according to a Senate source.
Tuesday’s meetings come after Democratic offices distributed a memo to colleagues on how lawmakers can be reimbursed for purchasing bulletproof vests and hiring security.
Jan 12, 11:59 am
House Rules Committee debates resolution demanding Trump’s removal
The House Rules Committee began meeting at 11 a.m. Tuesday to take up the rules governing floor debate for a resolution pressing Vice President Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment and force Trump out of office.
“It is absolutely critical for us to make clear that this was a dereliction of presidential duties,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., one of the resolution’s co-sponsors. “The president is not even minimally discharging the basic duties of his office.”
A vote on the resolution is expected around 7:30 p.m., according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office.
Democrats will give Pence “24 hours after passage” to respond and mobilize the Cabinet to remove Trump, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a statement Monday, otherwise the House will move forward with an impeachment vote as early as Wednesday, setting up Trump to be the first president in U.S. history impeached twice.
The House Rules Committee is expected to take up rules governing floor debate for the impeachment resolution — which charges Trump with inciting an insurrection — later in the day.
Jan 12, 10:53 am
Trump departs White House in first public appearance since Capitol riot
The president appeared before the press for the first time since last Wednesday — the day his supporters stormed the Capitol following his remarks at a rally calling on them to march to the building — when he departed the White House for Alamo, Texas, on Tuesday morning. He took the opportunity to criticize efforts to remove him from office.
“On the impeachment, it’s really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics. It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you’re doing it, and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing,” Trump said. “For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger.”
“I want no violence,” he told reporters.
Trump is expected to hold an event related to the souther border later this afternoon. Before addressing impeachment, he said the wall has made a “tremendous difference” in stopping illegal immigration.
Jan 12, 9:43 am
Overview: Trump to speak in Texas, Biden team to push national security confirmations
When he leaves for Alamo, Texas, Tuesday morning, it will be President Trump’s first time in public since last Wednesday — the day his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol after he encouraged a crowd of thousands, at a rally beforehand, to put pressure on lawmakers affirming Biden’s victory in Congress.
Apart from posting video on Twitter last Thursday, before the platform permanently suspended his account, the president has remained behind closed doors at the White House — spending his final days in office out of the public eye — but is expected to break his silence with afternoon remarks.
“President Trump is expected to travel to Alamo, Texas, on Tuesday to mark the completion of more than 400 miles of border wall — a promise made, promise kept — and his administration’s efforts to reform our broken immigration system,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere told reporters ahead of the visit.
The president is facing renewed calls from congressional Democrats to be removed from office in the wake of last week’s riot, with the House poised to pass an impeachment resolution as early as Wednesday charging the president with incitement of insurrection — and setting Trump up to be the first president in history to be impeached twice.
Trump, for the first time since the assault, spoke with Vice President Mike Pence at the urging of his advisers and allies in an Oval Office meeting Monday that lasted 90 minutes and was friendly in nature, according to White House officials briefed on the meeting. Pence is not expected to invoke the 25th Amendment as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called on him to do.
Biden, on Tuesday, will receive the President’s Daily Brief and meet with advisers, while his transition team and allies in Congress begin a push to confirm his national security nominees so they’re in place next week, with priority on the confirmation of Department of Homeland Security Secretary-designate Alejandro Mayorkas.
Defense Secretary-designate Gen. Lloyd Austin, nominee for Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Secretary of State-designate Tony Blinken will also be part of the push ahead of their hearings on Capitol Hill.
Biden’s nominees may also need now to contend with an impeachment trial in the Senate. Biden suggested in remarks Monday the Senate look into splitting the its time in order to confirm his nominees, pass COVID-19 relief and deal with a presidential impeachment.
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