Trump Breaks Isolation With Texas Trip, But Impeachment Looms

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Donald Trump emerges from isolation at the White House on Tuesday for a trip to Texas on the eve of likely becoming the first US president in history to be impeached twice, this time over his instigation of a riot against Congress.

With only eight days left in his one-term presidency, Trump finds himself alone, shunned by former supporters, barred by social media, and now facing a second impeachment.

His trip to Alamo, Texas, where he will tout claims of success in building a US-Mexican border wall, is his first live public appearance since January 6, when he rallied thousands of followers on the National Mall to march on Congress.

Although this is not the same Alamo as the famous fortress in another part of Texas, the trip marks something of a last stand for the Republican.

US President Donald Trump leaves for a trip to Texas, breaking his isolation in the White House Photo: AFP / Brendan Smialowski

Ever since the November 3 election, the real estate tycoon has been obsessively pushing a lie that he, not Democrat Joe Biden, was the real winner and last week he called on the huge crowd to “show strength.”

Amped up on Trump’s rhetoric, the mob burst into Congress, fighting with police, trashing offices and forcing frightened lawmakers to suspend briefly a ceremony legally formalizing Biden’s victory.

The crisis galvanized many of Trump’s former boosters in the corporate and sporting world to turn their backs.

In Congress, where the Republican party has been in thrall to the populist leader for four years, even ultra-loyal senior figures like Senator Lindsey Graham have finally told Trump that he must accept his election defeat.

Even now, however, Trump appears to remain in denial.

US National Guard soldiers guard the grounds of the US Capitol days after a Trump supporters stormed the building Photo: AFP / Daniel SLIM

He has yet to congratulate Biden or urge his supporters to stand behind the incoming president after he is inaugurated on January 20 — a gesture of political unity considered all but routine after US elections.

And according to Axios, Trump and the top Republican in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, had a stormy phone conversation Tuesday in which Trump claimed that left wing Antifa activists, not his supporters, attacked Congress.

“It’s not Antifa,” McCarthy reportedly responded. “I know. I was there.”

When Trump continued to push his conspiracy theory that he was the true election winner, McCarthy reportedly interrupted, telling him: “Stop it. It’s over. The election is over.”

The US Capitol is open to lawmakers and staff, but under tight police and military security Photo: AFPTV / Bastien INZAURRALDE

The House of Representatives will vote Tuesday on a longshot bid to get Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the US Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which would declare Trump unfit to perform his duties and install Pence as acting president.

This is unlikely to happen.

Although Pence is reportedly furious about Trump’s behavior last week, the two met at the White House on Monday for the first time since the Congress attack and had “a good conversation,” according to a senior administration official.

That signalled that whatever Pence and the dwindling number of White House officials feel, they are committed to keeping the presidency limping along until January 20.

Still, with a string of cabinet officials quitting the government — most recently the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf on Monday — it’s also clear that Trump’s grip on power is tenuous.

In an interview Tuesday on ABC News, Health Secretary Alex Azar did not dismiss outright the option of removing Trump, saying, “I’m not going to get into or discuss the 25th Amendment here.”

Democrats will follow up the 25th Amendment vote with impeachment proceedings in the House on Wednesday. The single charge of “incitement of insurrection” is all but sure to get majority support.

The Republican-controlled Senate, however, is in recess until January 19 and its leadership says there is no way to rush through an impeachment trial before Biden takes over the following day.

This means that Trump, who was acquitted in the Senate last year after his first impeachment, would not be forced out of office early.

But not even all Democrats are gunning for a trial, worried that this would overshadow Biden’s first days in office.

The new president will already face the challenges of an out-of-control Covid-19 pandemic, the stumbling vaccination program, a shaky economy, and now the aftermath of violent political opposition from parts of Trump’s huge voter base.