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President Trump faces reporters as he walks toward Marine One yesterday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Top Republicans want to bury President Trump, for good. But they are divided whether to do it with one quick kill via impeachment, or let him slowly fade away.

  • A House impeachment vote, which would make Trump the first president to be impeached twice, is expected in mid-afternoon.

The big picture: Sources tell Axios Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be more likely than not to vote to convict Trump — a green light for other Republican senators to follow.

  • House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy would love a Trumpless world, but doesn't want to knife him with fingerprints. This school of thought wants to let Trump do himself in, without a big party fight over his sins and sentence.
  • The fade-away caucus sees a danger that the impeachment-conviction route is, as a prominent conservative put it, "making him Jesus. ... Truly stupid."
  • But an effort by McCarthy to push a lighter punishment for Trump censure has crumbled.

Republican sentiment turned swiftly against the unrepentant Trump yesterday, starting with a New York Times report that McConnell is "pleased" that Democrats are moving to impeach Trump.

  • That was followed by a stunning statement by House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican leader, who said of Trump's abetting of the Capitol "mob": "There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution. I will vote to impeach the President."
  • Other Republican House members joining Cheney in supporting impeachment (via AP): Reps. John Katko of New York, a former federal prosecutor; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an Air Force veteran; Fred Upton of Michigan; and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington.

McConnell, 78, knows this fight will be his legacy. "If you’re McConnell, you want to be remembered for defending the Senate and the institution," said a Republican familiar with McConnell's thinking.

  • McConnell is furious at Trump for his total lack of remorse for the Capitol siege, and believes that Trump could only be an impediment to Republicans regaining the Senate majority that they lost on the president's watch.

Trump pushback ... Trump senior adviser Jason Miller, citing a poll of battleground-state voters by John McLaughlin, said: "[I]f you’re a Republican who votes for impeachment, you’re likely serving your last term."

The bottom line ... The way one well-wired Republican put it: "People have been waiting for Trump to do himself in since the escalator ride. If we want him gone, Republicans are going to have to take him down."

Go deeper ... "Explainer: How Trump's 2nd impeachment will unfold"

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Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 6: Last stand in Georgia

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer, Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 6: Georgia had not backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 and Donald Trump's defeat in this Deep South stronghold, and his reaction to that loss, would help cost Republicans the U.S. Senate as well. Georgia was Trump's last stand.

On Air Force One, President Trump was in a mood. He had been clear he did not want to return to Georgia, and yet somehow he'd been conscripted into another rally on the night of Jan. 4.

12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump send-off in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in July. Photo: Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.

Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."