NBC News- WASHINGTON — The House is expected to impeach President Donald Trump Wednesday afternoon for a second time, charging the president with "incitement of insurrection" for his role in the violent takeover by a pro-Trump mob of the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead and terrorized lawmakers as they sought to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory.
Lawmakers arrived at the Capitol on Wednesday morning to debate the article just one week after the attack, entering now heavily guarded building swarming with thousands of National Guard officers.
"Those insurrectionists were not patriots. They were not part of a political base to be catered to or managed. They were domestic terrorists and justice must prevail," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor, kicking off two hours of debate before the final vote is schedule to be held around 3 p.m. ET.
"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,'" Pelosi, D-Calif., continued. "The president saw the insurrectionists not as the foes of freedom, as they are, but as the means to a terrible goal: the goal of him personally clinging to power."
Several Republicans announced Tuesday night that they would vote in favor of impeachment, including Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a member of the GOP leadership.
Republican Reps. John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington also said Tuesday they would vote to impeach Trump. Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington announced Wednesday he would vote to impeach.
No House Republican voted to impeach Trump during the inquiry earlier in his term that resulted in a Senate acquittal.
Top House Republican, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, argued that a vote to impeach would further divide the country and called instead for a fact-finding commission into the president’s immediate actions and a censure resolution.
"That doesn’t mean the President is free from fault," McCarthy said during debate. "The President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding."
The House is prepared to immediately send the article of impeachment to the Senate for them to begin the process of holding a trial to determine whether to convict Trump and potentially bar him from ever running for any office again.
However, it is unclear when that trial will happen. The Senate is currently operating under an agreement where no business can be conducted until Jan. 19th, one day before Biden is sworn into office.
While Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., could use an emergency provision to jointly call the Senate back early, a spokesperson for McConnell said Wednesday that the leader would not consider doing so.
Some Democrats have raised concerns that if the impeachment case does not come before the Senate until Biden is in office, Biden's Cabinet nominees could be left waiting for confirmation until the trial is over.
It is unclear what will happen in the Senate once the trial begins. Although Trump is likely to have already left office by then, a vote to convict Trump could still bar him from holding federal office again.
McConnell has privately voiced support for the Democrats' move to impeach Trump, according to The New York Times. NBC News has not independently confirmed The New York Times report, but McConnell's office has not disputed the reporting.
McConnell’s leadership team — which includes Republican Sens. John Thune of South Dakota, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Rick Scott of Florida and Roy Blunt of Missouri — were not given a heads up from the Senate leader ahead of The New York Times story and felt blindsided, according to multiple aides familiar with the day's events.
It is rare for McConnell to stake out a position without first consulting with his leadership team or even his entire conference. Some aides believe that if McConnell were to come out publicly in favor of impeachment, other senators would join him.
The impeachment vote follows a House vote late Tuesday night to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. The act, which was largely symbolic, passed the House 223 to 205 along partisan lines with Kinzinger as the sole Republican to vote in favor of the measure.
Pence, who was one of the targets of the violent mob that attacked the Capitol last week, informed Pelosi shortly before the vote that he would not invoke the 25th Amendment, writing in a letter to the speaker that he didn’t believe "such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution."
The "incitement of insurrection" article of impeachment was introduced Monday by three House Democrats: Jaime Raskin of Maryland, Ted Lieu of California and David Cicilline of Rhode Island. It says Trump has "demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law."
"He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government," the five-page article of impeachment continues. “He thereby betrayed his trust as president, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States."
The article also cites Trump's Jan. 2 phone call urging Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to overturn the state's election results as part of his effort "to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election."
Trump has no public events on his schedule Wednesday and with Twitter banning his account last week, the president will not be able to tweet about the process as he did when the House impeached him in December 2019.
Pelosi named nine Democratic impeachment managers for the trial Tuesday, with Raskin leading the team that will seek to prosecute Trump.