Pelosi: Democrats will move to impeach Trump
House Democrats will stage a vote to impeach President Trump for encouraging mob violence at the Capitol on Wednesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Sunday night.
Pelosi said the Democrats’ preferred response to the attack on the U.S. Capitol is for Vice President Pence to remove Trump by invoking the 25th Amendment — an unlikely scenario less than two weeks before Trump is set to leave office.
But in a letter to fellow Democrats, the Speaker vowed to bring a vote on impeachment in the absence of action by Pence, setting the stage for an historic first: the impeachment of a president for the second time in his tenure.
“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” Pelosi wrote in the letter to rank-and-file colleagues. “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, who was personally targeted by some members of the pro-Trump mob in Wednesday’s insurrection, laid out the Democrats’ strategy for the days ahead.
On Monday, they will try to adopt Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin’s 25th Amendment resolution by unanimous consent — a gambit sure to be blocked by Trump’s conservative allies.
“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.
“Next, we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the Floor,” she added.
The Speaker did not say when the impeachment vote might happen, but Democratic aides said they were aiming for mid-week.
Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the majority whip, suggested earlier Sunday that Democrats could impeach Trump now but delay sending the articles to the Senate, granting incoming President Joe Biden the time to seat his Cabinet and launch his 100-day agenda before an impeachment trial bogs down Congress for an indeterminate length of time.
“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 told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday.
“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’s announcement comes following of an extraordinary week of violent unrest in the nation’s capital, unprecedented in the history of the country.
Trump, speaking at the White House on Wednesday, had encouraged thousands of his supporters to march to the Capitol to block Congress from certifying Biden the victor in November’s election. Many of them complied, storming the Capitol in the middle of Congress’s debate to verify the state-backed electoral votes.
What happened next will be permanently enshrined in the most horrific episodes of American history.
The rioters breached the Capitol, ransacked offices, smashed windows, defaced historic artifacts and tracked their own feces through the country’s best-known emblem of democracy. Some threatened to take lawmakers hostage — or worse.
The attack sparked a scene of bedlam throughout the Capitol as lawmakers, staffers and reporters scrambled for cover and some of Trump’s closest GOP allies urged the president to tell his supporters to stand down.
Amid the chaos, at least four protestors died — including a California woman who was shot by a Capitol Police officer while attempting to access the House floor. Another Capitol Police officer was killed after sustaining injuries in a standoff with protestors. A third officer reportedly died over the weekend, while off duty, after defending the Capitol during the siege.
Pelosi hasn’t publicly settled on which impeachment articles to take up. But Democrats are rallying behind a single article, authored by Reps. Raskin, David Cicilline (R.I.) and Ted Lieu (Calif.), that charges Trump with high crimes and misdemeanors for “willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”
More than 200 Democrats have already signed on as co-sponsors; they will need at least 217 to pass it through the House. It’s unclear if any House Republicans will support it.
“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.
Updated at 7:53 p.m.