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222 Democrats, 10 Republicans Vote To Impeach Trump For A 2nd Time

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 last week's riot was a culmination of months of doubt sown over the election by Trump.

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NANCY PELOSI: And then came that day of 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. Democratic Congressman James Clyburn is with us this morning. The South Carolina representative serves as the House majority whip. Good morning, Congressman.

JAMES CLYBURN: Good morning. Thank you very much for having me.

MOSLEY: Yes. So, as I mentioned, 10 of the more than 200 Republicans in the House voted to impeach the president. That not - did that number surprise you?

CLYBURN: Well, I thought it would be more. And I suspect if it were a secret ballot, it would be more. I do understand the pressures on many of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, especially in these districts that have been sort of gerrymandered to favor right-wing politics. And some of them are caught up in it.

MOSLEY: Yeah.

CLYBURN: And so I understand why they don't want to be public with their sentiments. And I also congratulate those 10. About eight or nine of them, this took a lot of courage.

MOSLEY: Took a lot of courage, you say. I also wondered whether you had had any conversations beforehand with Republican members who did not vote to impeach the president. And if so, did their words match their actions?

CLYBURN: Well, yeah. I've had conversations with many of them who would tell me in no uncertain terms, they felt the man needed to be impeached. They felt that he was not qualified to be president. But they also knew the sentiments of so many people inside their districts. Now, you know, I don't want anybody to think that it's all of the people in the Republican primary. But when you're in the primary, you've got to look at that 35, 40% because that number can force you out of office.

MOSLEY: The outgoing president now faces another Senate trial, as we mentioned. And you've actually proposed giving the incoming president, Joe Biden, 100 days in office before the Senate acts. Why?

CLYBURN: Well, you know, we always apply the first 100 days as being the time within which a president should have, you know, to set the tone of his administration. Now, I know the history of the 100-day thing. I know what it was with Franklin Roosevelt. I know there's no law, or it's just a tradition that grew out of his administration. But we've adopted that as sort of a yardstick. So my thing is, all of us want to see this country get beyond this pandemic. We want to see this country's economy get back up and running. And so then we ought to give this president all the space he needs within which to get his program going. So that's why I mentioned that. But I suspect that the two leaders of the Senate, majority and minority, can come together and develop a process by which we can do both things at the same time.

MOSLEY: Yeah. Well, what are you hearing from Senate Republicans? And based on that, how many do you think could potentially actually back impeachment?

CLYBURN: Well, I don't know. I know what Mitch McConnell seems to be signaling. And I suspect that there is support. I don't think there are 17 Republicans that would be needed - enough to get 17.

MOSLEY: You don't think that it's 17? Yeah...

CLYBURN: No, not at this point. Now, it could - during the trial, things could come up. And if our managers manage it well, I think this man is - can be determined guilty by his own words. There's no need to (inaudible) facts.

MOSLEY: Your party is also launching an investigation into whether some Republican members of Congress encouraged last week's attempted insurrection, potentially aiding the mob who stormed the Capitol. What information are you getting on that?

CLYBURN: Well, it seems to be that something was going on. Some coordination was going on between sitting members of Congress and some of these so-called visitors to the Capitol. I've been listening to my colleagues and watching their interviews on television. And many of them saw things going on the day before that led them to believe that something was amiss.

Now, I do know my own office where I do most of my work is unmarked. It's on a different floor from the office where - that's designated as my office. Nobody bothered the door that was designated to be mine, but they showed up at my office where I do most of my work. It seems to me that they had knowledge about where I could be found.

MOSLEY: I have a little less than a minute with you, but are you concerned about next week? And what's your call to action to make certain that it's safe? There are so many National Guardsmen there now. It seems that more effort is being taken to make certain that it's a safe inauguration.

CLYBURN: Yes, a lot of effort is being taken. And I was taken aback yesterday when I went to work with the presence of all the National Guard. But I do feel that we will have a safe and uneventful inauguration.

MOSLEY: That's House Majority Whip James Clyburn.

As always, thank you so much for your time.

CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.