By Agence France-Presse
As lawmakers began a day of speeches and votes likely ending with the third presidential impeachment in US history, outside the Capitol, protesters made it clear they want Donald Trump to go.
Jill Watson joined a few hundred people braving a cold Wednesday morning to voice their support for lawmakers poised to say yea or nay to the formal charging of the Republican leader.
“I really feel that we need to show people in there that we care,” said Watson, a 72-year-old retired law librarian, referring to members of the House of Representatives inside the august building.
“Trump is destroying all of our values,” she added. Watson wore a sign around her neck that read “Vote to make us honorable again.”
Trump stands accused of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Democrats say he delayed the delivery of military aid to Ukraine in a bid to try to force the country to open a deliberately embarrassing corruption probe into a main 2020 reelection rival, Democrat Joe Biden.
Republicans deride the process as a politically motivated farce. The House of Representatives is expected to vote along more or less strict party lines to send the matter to the Senate for trial.
Demonstrators carried a multitude of signs, beginning with giant red letters spelling out IMPEACH.
“Protect the constitution,” said one. “Trump is lawless,” read another.
Mark Grace, who works in international education, brought his dog Ben to the proceedings. He described himself as “just a citizen who is concerned.”
“I believe this president has abused the authority of his office. He has lied to people. He has corrupted the office of presidency and he is a threat to democracy,” said Grace, 56.
“When you break the law, you’re not above it.”
– ‘Criminal’ –
Susanna Kanner, a 37-year-old documentary television producer, came to the rally before heading to work.
For Kanner, the real estate mogul-turned-world leader is a “criminal.”
“How can you think that you can extort a foreign power to meddle in your elections, and that that’s ok?” she said with incredulity.
The latest opinion polls show a nation divided over impeachment.
In a CNBC survey, 44 percent of respondents approve of impeachment, while 45 percent are against and 11 percent are unsure.
A Politico poll showed 50 percent backing Trump’s impeachment and removal, and 43 percent against.
When asked why she came to the rally, Kanner said: “You have to show up.”
Watson said voters could not wait for next year’s presidential election to have their say on Trump, encouraging senators to vote him out of office.
“He is too dangerous. And as the election gets closer, he will become untethered,” she said.