As the sun sets on Donald Trump’s presidency, House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are looking to impeach the president after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, leaving five people dead.
“We will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both [the Constitution and U.S. democracy],” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues on Sunday. “As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”
Pelosi on Sunday laid out the process for removing Trump from office ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
The California Democrat said Congress will move on a motion brought by Representative Jamie Raskin (D., Md.) that calls on Vice President Mike Pence to convene the Cabinet to invoke the 25th amendment to remove the president from office. This is Democrats’ preferred mode of removal, the speaker said, though the more unlikely.
“If we do not receive Unanimous Consent, this [Raskin] legislation is planned to be brought up on the Floor the following day. We are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours,” Pelosi wrote.
In the event that Pence does not respond, Pelosi said the House will move forward with articles of impeachment, which have been drafted but not yet introduced, which could make Trump the first president in history to be impeached for a second time in his tenure.
Pelosi did not say when the impeachment vote might occur, though Democratic aides said they were hoping for mid-week, according to The Hill.
As Democrats hold a slim majority in the House, impeachment could succeed without any Republican support. However, in order to remove Trump from office, 67 senators would need to vote to convict him.
Republicans will maintain their majority in the Senate until Georgia Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are sworn in later this month after the election results are certified.
Once received, the Senate is required to consider the articles of impeachment before acting on any other business. If the Senate is forced to immediately hold impeachment hearings, other important business, including hearings for President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks, will be delayed.
To avoid this, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D., S.C.) on Sunday suggested impeaching Trump now but waiting until after Biden’s first 100 days in office to send the articles to the Senate.
While a post-presidency impeachment and conviction would not remove Trump from office, it would bar him from holding office in the future, so long as a simple majority voted to bar him after conviction. The vote would be significant considering that Trump has signaled he intends to run for president again in 2024.
“We will take the vote that we should take in the House. And [Pelosi] will make the determination as to when is the best time to get that vote and get the managers appointed and move that legislation over to the Senate,” Clyburn said in an appearance on CNN.
“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” Clyburn added. “And maybe we will send the articles some time after that.”
Pelosi has not publicly announced which impeachment articles she plans to move forward with, Democrats have thrown support behind a single article by Representatives Raskin, David Cicilline (R.I.) and Ted Lieu (Calif.) that charges the president with high crimes and misdemeanors for “willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”
More than 200 Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors. At least 217 are needed to pass the article through the House.
“Wherefore President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law,” the impeachment article states.
“President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States,” it continues.
However, while a number of Republican lawmakers have condemned what they perceive as Trump’s role in inciting Wednesday’s siege on the Capitol, it’s unclear how many in the GOP would support impeachment.
Representative Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) is the only House Republican to call for Trump to immediately leave office, though he has acknowledged that impeachment is “probably not the smartest move right now.”
House Republicans, as the minority, have no power to stop the Democrats from moving forward with impeachment.
Democrats have the ability to skip the normal impeachment process, which typically includes a vote to proceed with an inquiry, a committee probe of the president’s conduct, time for the president to defend himself, debate over the correct way to proceed and a Senate trial. Democrats can pass a rule creating a new procedure, followed by an article or articles of impeachment whenever they want, according to Byron York of the Washington Examiner.
The first time the president was impeached, no Republicans supported the matter. Circumstances are different, however, this time around as the party has grown more fractured, split between Trump allies who have supported his unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud and a rigged election and those who have not.
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