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As House Moves To Impeach Trump, A Look At White House's Reaction

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And I want to bring in another voice - that of NPR's Mara Liasson, who was listening in, along with the rest of us, to that last conversation.

Hey, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi there.

KELLY: Hey. What jumped out at you from what we just heard there from Steven Groves?

LIASSON: Well, I think that there's going to be a debate about what the president said. He gave a very long speech. And obviously, fight like hell is - sometimes that can be used metaphorically. But he did tell his supporters that they should try to overturn the election. That's what was happening inside the Capitol building - that they went up there to encourage Republicans who weren't joining that effort to be strong. He called them weak.

I think there are a lot of other moments in that speech that people would take a different way. He sent out a call to law enforcement and the military to let the people - protesters come up. Did he mean up the steps of the Capitol? We don't know. But there's no doubt that many Republicans in Congress took that speech as an incitement.

KELLY: Let me get your take on a question that I suspect is on a lot of people's minds. What is the point of going forward with impeachment when the president, whether you think he incited an insurrection or not - when he is leaving office before the Senate can possibly act and carry out a trial?

LIASSON: Yeah. And even if the Senate did act and carry out a trial, it's unlikely - very unlikely that he would be convicted and removed because that would take a two-thirds vote. The House of Representatives - the Democratic leadership there wants the president to be held accountable, and they feel that impeachment is the only way they have to do that. Censure is - in their mind, is insufficient. So that is a good question.

There's also the question of logistically how it would work with a new president coming in. Joe Biden wants to get his nominees confirmed. He wants to move forward very quickly on his COVID relief package, he said today. Although he's been noncommittal about impeachment, he said he has been talking to senators about how a trial and confirmation hearings could go forward at the same time. He talked about bifurcating the schedule.

KELLY: Right. Real quick, you heard me going back and forth with Mr. Groves there on whether the president has been silenced now that he's been kicked off Twitter. Do we know what is going on behind the scenes at the White House?

LIASSON: Well, we know the president hasn't been saying much. As you said, he still has the bully pulpit. He could come out and talk to reporters anytime he wanted to. Tomorrow, he will go to the border. We assume he will speak there. He's going to show off the small amount of wall that has been constructed. But the very big question is, will the president encourage or discourage his supporters from converging on Washington again - we know they're emboldened...

KELLY: On January 20, which is...

LIASSON: ...By what happened in the Capitol on Wednesday...

KELLY: ...Just around the corner.

LIASSON: ...Or will he stay silent?

KELLY: OK. NPR's Mara Liasson, thanks.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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