And the country's nerves were already at breaking point nearly a year into a once-in-a-century pandemic that has brought death and sickness and further deepened stark political divides.'Armed combat' in the CapitolThe formal impeachment vote in the House is far from the only barely believable twist leading up to Biden's inauguration in seven days.The horror of last week's events and their grave implications are becoming even clearer as more details emerge about the day when a sitting President incited partisans to assault another branch of government in the act of finalizing his election defeat.The idea that the rampage in which five people died was just a political outburst that got out of control was debunked Tuesday by the serious tone of a news conference held by the acting district attorney in Washington."I think people are going to be shocked with some of the egregious contact that happened within the Capitol," Michael Sherwin said, referencing "mind-blowing" cases and charges including sedition and conspiracy.
Liz Cheney, a staunch conservative, announced that she would vote for Trump's impeachment, enshrining the split with her fellow members of the GOP House leadership."There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution," Cheney said.
Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and John Katko of New York, also said they would vote to impeach, with a number of their GOP colleagues expected to follow suit in a vote that will echo through history, sources told CNN.In another development that exacerbated the feeling of history unspooling at a breakneck pace, Pence wrote to the House to formally refuse to join the Cabinet in invoking the 25th Amendment to declare Trump no longer able to fulfill the duties of his office."I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution," Pence wrote, after Democratic leaders had warned that an intervention by the vice president would be the only step that could hold off Wednesday's impeachment vote.
The historic damage that Trump has already inflicted upon America's reputation in this regard is incalculable.But the stakes surrounding Wednesday's vote and what will be a prolonged struggle during the Biden administration to bolster US political institutions can be seen in remarks coming out of authoritarian Russia -- the American adversary that interfered in the 2016 election in a bid to help Trump."Following the events that unfolded after the presidential elections, it is meaningless to refer to America as the example of democracy," said Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house of the Russian Parliament and a supporter of President Vladimir Putin.
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