Donald Trump was set to visit Alamo, Texas, on Tuesday, in an effort to beat back calls for his resignation and stop Republicans joining a historic second impeachment.
The visit the border town of Alamo, 240 miles south of the historic Alamo fort, was promoted as a way to highlight work on the border wall, after almost a week of fierce criticism of Trump for inciting last week’s deadly Capitol riot.
But with federal investigators warning of additional potential security threats around the inauguration of Joe Biden in Washington DC next week and across the country, the country was braced for Trump’s next move after days of silence.
Behind the scenes, the president has reportedly continued his retreat into paranoia and unreality, repeating in a conversation with the House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, the outlandish lie that so-called “antifa” leftwing activists, and not his supporters, were responsible for death and destruction inside the US Capitol last week.
“It’s not Antifa,” McCarthy reportedly replied. “It’s Maga. I know. I was there.” Maga refers to the Trump slogan, “Make America Great Again”.
The House was due to vote on a resolution seeking the use of the 25th amendment, which provides for the removal of a president deemed unfit for office, on Tuesday. Dependent on the vice-president, Mike Pence, the gambit seemed sure to fail.
After days of silence between the pair, Trump and Pence held a “good conversation” at the White House on Monday evening, an unnamed official told Reuters.
Some of the Trump supporters who responded to Trump’s call to storm the Capitol last Wednesday, prompting clashes in which a police officer was killed, a rioter was shot dead and three others died, were caught on video chanting “Hang Mike Pence”.
A House vote to impeach Trump on one article, for incitement of insurrection, was expected on Wednesday morning. The timetable for the ensuing Senate trial was uncertain. If Trump is convicted in the Senate after he leaves office, he would be disqualified from running for office again.
Unlike Trump’s first impeachment in December 2019, a sizable number of Republicans in the House and a handful of Republicans in the Senate signaled they would support the effort. Those lawmakers included conference chair Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House.
Republicans are expecting up to 20 Republican lawmakers to vote for impeachment, reported Punchbowl news.
“We don’t actually need a lot of evidence here because it’s all out in the open,” the Democratic representative Ted Lieu told the cable host Rachel Maddow late on Monday. “There’s no dispute Donald Trump gave a speech. No dispute there was an attack on the Capitol. No dispute that multiple people died.”
It was unclear whether Trump would make a public statement on Tuesday and, if so, whether he would say something that could either discourage – or encourage – followers to provoke further violent chaos. In nearly every public utterance since he lost the election in November, Trump has repeated the lie that he won.
Explanations for why Trump himself could not be reached as the Capitol was attacked continued to emerge. According to the Washington Post, quoting an unnamed close adviser, the president was “hard to reach … because it was live TV”.
“If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls,” the adviser said. “If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.”
News of Trump’s visit to the town of Alamo was cause for some confusion with the Alamo fort in San Antonio, a World Heritage Site where fighters for Texan independence were massacred in 1836.
Some observers suggested Trump had booked a venue in error, as his campaign apparently and famously did at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a business in the Philadelphia outskirts, in November.
Many observers were worried by the prospect of Trump’s visit to Texas, one writing: “Remember the Alamo [is] a rallying cry.”
Former federal cybersecurity chief Chris Krebs, who Trump fired for saying the election was secure, told CNN: “This is the equivalent of ignoring that pain in your chest for a couple weeks and then all of a sudden you have a catastrophic heart attack.
“We are on the verge of what I fear to be a pretty significant breakdown in democracy and civil society here.”