Democrats poised to impeach Trump again

Greg Nash

House Democrats are racing toward impeaching President Trump for a second time after he incited a mob of his supporters this week to storm the U.S. Capitol to halt Congress’s constitutional duty to certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday night that if Trump does not resign she has directed the Rules Committee to quickly take up a motion to impeach Trump as well as legislation to create a commission that can declare that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Earlier in the week, Pelosi had suggested House lawmakers would move to impeach the president if Vice President Pence and other cabinet officials declined to remove Trump by invoking the 25th Amendment — a move that Pence reportedly opposes

Now it looks like Pelosi is moving straight to impeachment, and she’ll have plenty of support from within her caucus, where members are lining up for the opportunity to hold Trump formally accountable for encouraging his supporters to march on the Capitol. 

A trio of Democratic lawmakers — Reps. David Cicilline (R.I.), Ted Lieu (Calif.) and Jamie Raskin (Md.) — is preparing to introduce new articles of impeachment against Trump as soon as Monday’s pro forma session. The articles would address both Trump’s role in the Capitol siege and his months-long refusal to accept his election defeat.

During an emotional phone call lasting more than three hours Friday afternoon, House Democrats voiced near-unanimous support for impeachment just two days after thousands of pro-Trump rioters attacked the Capitol, sources on the call said.

Only one Democrat, Rep. Kurt Schrader (Ore.), spoke up against impeachment, cautioning colleagues that it might exacerbate divisions in the country if lawmakers quickly charged Trump without investigating and presenting evidence. But others countered that Americans had seen the evidence play out live on national television.

Pelosi voiced her anger at Trump on the call — “The president chose to be an insurrectionist,” she said — but she’s hoping the threat of impeachment will increase pressure on Pence to act.

“Impeachment encourages conversation on the 25th Amendment. That’s picked up a lot of steam,” the Speaker said on Friday’s call. “How we go forward is a subject for this caucus.”

Yet on a separate call a day earlier, Pelosi appeared to be leaning toward the impeachment route and told her leadership team that Trump’s actions had left them no choice, sources said.

Pelosi planned to speak with Biden by phone on Friday afternoon. The president-elect said earlier in the day it was up to the Congress to decide whether to press forward with impeachment so close to Inauguration Day. 

“I’d tell them that’s a decision for the Congress to make. I’m focused on my job,” Biden said.

Dozens of Democrats have already endorsed a letter — spearheaded by Reps. Tom Malinowski (N.J.), Dean Phillips (Minn.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) — urging leaders to reconvene the House immediately in order “to reckon with the assault on our democracy.” The lawmakers are pushing a variety of legislative responses, including efforts to censure or impeach the president.

The aggressive push to impeach Trump for the second time in just 14 months comes after Trump rallied thousands of his supporters — some of them carrying firearms, makeshift bombs and zip ties — to march from the White House to the Capitol to stop lawmakers from counting and certifying the Electoral College results — the final procedural step to make Biden’s election official.

The rioters toppled barricades, overwhelmed Capitol Police and then ran amok through the halls of the building, smashing windows, stealing laptops and ransacking offices, including those of Pelosi and Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.), the Democratic whip. 

Amid the chaos, five people died, including a 35-year-old woman shot by a Capitol Police officer as she attempted to access the House chamber. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, 42, also died of injuries sustained during the assault.

In a letter to fellow Democrats on Friday, Pelosi said she’s holding out hope that Pence will remove Trump from office by invoking the 25th Amendment. She also revealed that she had spoken Friday morning with Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to discuss strategies “for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.”

“The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy,” Pelosi wrote.

With Biden set to take over the White House on Jan. 20, House leaders have little time to realize their fall-back impeachment option. But Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in leadership, has repeatedly expressed support for quickly impeaching Trump as Pence and Trump’s Cabinet show little appetite for invoking the 25th Amendment.

“Let’s impeach him. Let’s give him what he wants,” Clyburn said on a call with reporters on Friday.

Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (Mass.), the fourth-ranking House Democrat, said an impeachment vote could be “as early as mid-next week.”

“Donald Trump needs to be removed from office. And we are going to proceed with every tool that we have to make sure that that happens to protect our democracy,” Clark told CNN on Friday morning.

“If the reports are correct, and Mike Pence is not going to uphold his oath of office and remove the president and help protect our democracy, then we will move forward with impeachment to do just that,” she added.

Clark later clarified in a tweet that Democrats are still weighing a timeline and “the quickest path to hold Trump accountable.”

It remains unclear how Republicans will react to another impeachment effort. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said Friday that he would “definitely consider” supporting Trump’s impeachment, saying the president had “disregarded his oath of office.”

A few hours later, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) became the first GOP senator to say Trump should resign.

“I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News.

Some Republicans are hoping Biden will persuade Pelosi and other congressional Democrats to steer clear of impeachment in Trump’s waning days in office. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), for one, warned that impeachment would only tear the country apart further.

Yet that idea isn’t flying with liberal Democrats, who maintain that Congress would be derelict in its duties if it allows Trump to skate out of office without being held accountable for inciting Wednesday’s mob at the Capitol.

“Attacking our nation without recourse or responsibility isn’t ‘moving on,’ ” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted at Graham. “A Capitol Police officer just died. Why are you defending this?”

Updated at 6:17 p.m.

Tags 25th Amendment Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Ayanna Pressley Ben Sasse Capitol breach Constitution David Cicilline Dean Phillips Debbie Wasserman Schultz Donald Trump Hakeem Jeffries Ilhan Omar Impeachment Inauguration day Jamie Raskin Joe Biden Katherine Clark Kurt Schrader Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Mark Milley Mike Pence Nancy Pelosi Ted Lieu Tom Malinowski

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