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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened the debate Wednesday on the article of impeachment charging President Trump with inciting insurrection with a searing indictment of his actions, calling him a “clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

As the House was set to impeach Trump for the second time, Pelosi said members of Congress and the country “experienced the insurrection that violated the sanctity of the people’s Capitol and attempted to overturn the duly recorded will of the American people. And we know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion, against our common country. He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

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Trump repeatedly lied about the outcome of the presidential election when he asserted he won, Pelosi said, and he “unconstitutionally sought state officials to repeal reality,” a reference to Trump’s phone call with Georgia’s secretary of state in early January in which he pushed officials to “find” votes that would recalculate the state’s results in his favor. Both points are mentioned in the four-page impeachment article that asserts his actions “gravely endangered the security of the United States and its government.”

Describing last Wednesday, when a violent mob of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol as lawmakers convened to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, as “a day of fire,” Pelosi called on lawmakers to impeach Trump and convict him of the charge in the Senate, “a constitutional remedy to ensure the republic will be safe from this man,” she said.

Those who breached the Capitol building “were domestic terrorists,” Pelosi said, and they “did not appear out of a vacuum.”

“They were sent here by the president with words such as a cry to “fight like hell,” she said. “The president saw the insurrectionists as a means to a terrible goal: the goal of his personal cling to power, the goal of thwarting the will of the people.”

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Pelosi also invoked John F. Kennedy, quoting a 1963 speech he was set to give in Dallas the day after he was assassinated.

“President John F. Kennedy was to say: ‘we in this country, in this generation are — by destiny rather than choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility.’ ”

Kennedy’s words, Pelosi said, “resonate more even now in our time in this place.”


Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.