'He Must Go': House Speaker Pelosi Brands Trump 'Clear and Present Danger' to America
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walks to her office after speaking at the US Capitol. (AFP)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday demanded the impeachment of Donald Trump in the final week of his presidency, calling him a "clear and present danger" to America for inciting an "armed rebellion" at the US Capitol.
"He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love," the most powerful Democrat in Congress told the House chamber during debate over whether to impeach Trump for an unprecedented second time, for "incitement of insurrection."
"Since the presidential election in November, an election the president lost, he has repeatedly lied about the outcome," sought to sow doubt about the election process, and "unconstitutionally sought to influence state officials" to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's election win, Pelosi said.
"Those insurrectionists were not patriots. They were not part of a political base to be catered to and managed. They were domestic terrorists and justice must prevail," CNN quoted Pelosi as saying.
"But they did not appear out of a vacuum. They were sent here, sent here by the President with words such as a cry 'to fight like hell.' Words matter. Truth matters. Accountability matters," she said. "The President saw the insurrectionists not as a foes to freedom, as they are, but as the means to a terrible goal, the goal to his personally clinging to power. The goal of thwarting the will of the people. The goal of ending in a fiery and bloody clash, nearly two and a half centuries of our democracy."
The House of Representatives is set to impeach Trump for inciting insurrection, with several key Republicans backing the Democrat-led push to bring down the real estate tycoon in flames just a week before he leaves office.
As lawmakers opened their session, Washington was in a state of siege, with armed National Guards deployed, central streets barred to cars and public spaces fenced off.
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 expected vote, coming seven days ahead of Democrat Joe Biden's inauguration, would make Trump the first US president to have been impeached twice.
Trump's epic downfall was triggered by his January 6 speech to a crowd on the National Mall, telling them that Biden had stolen the election and that they needed to march on Congress and show "strength."
Amped up on weeks of conspiracy theories pushed by Trump, the mob stormed into the Capitol, fatally injured 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.
In opening debates Wednesday, Democratic lawmaker Ilhan Omar branded Trump a "tyrant."
"The president not only incited an insurrection against our government but has in word and deed led a rebellion," she told the chamber. "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" over the violence, the speed of the process "poses great questions about the constitutionality."