Security fencing surrounds the US Capitol days after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington, the US, January 11 2021. Picture: REUTERS/ERIN SCOTT
Security fencing surrounds the US Capitol days after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington, the US, January 11 2021. Picture: REUTERS/ERIN SCOTT

Washington — House Democrats on Monday introduced a resolution to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time, setting up a vote this week unless Vice-President Mike Pence uses his constitutional authority to remove the president.

A majority of members in the Democratic-controlled House have signed on to the resolution led by David Cicilline, Jamie Raskin and Ted Lieu charging Trump with inciting the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th. It seeks to both remove him from the presidency and prevent him from ever holding office again.

Cicilline said on Monday it has enough support for passage, including some Republicans.

“I expect we will have Republican support,” he said. “We should pass it and the Senate should take it up immediately.”

The four-page resolution includes a single article accusing Trump of high crimes and misdemeanour for “incitement of insurrection”, and says he “wilfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol” as Congress was certifying the Electoral College results that affirmed Joe Biden won the presidency. It also cites Trumps call to Georgia’s secretary of state urging him to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win there.

“In all this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the US and its institutions of government,” the resolution says.

Republicans blocked House majority leader Steny Hoyer from fast-tracking a resolution urging Pence and Trump’s cabinet to use the 25th amendment to oust Trump. That sets up a roll-call vote on the measure on Tuesday.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi said if Pence doesn’t respond to the ultimatum in 24 hours, the House will move towards a vote on an impeachment resolution, which Hoyer said could happen on Wednesday. Pence has privately dismissed the possibility that he would convene the cabinet to remove Trump.

If the House impeaches Trump, some Democrats are pressing Pelosi to delay sending the resolution to the Senate to prevent the trial from interrupting the beginning of Biden’s administration. That would give the new president time to get cabinet members confirmed and focus on legislative priorities.

The Senate is in recess and any trial for Trump could not begin until January 20 at the earliest without the backing of all senators. And once a trial is under way, the Senate couldn’t take up other business.

“Let’s give president-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running. And maybe we will send the articles some time after that,” James Clyburn, a member of House Democratic leadership, said on Sunday on CNN.

Biden is treading carefully. He said last week that impeachment is a matter for Congress to decide, but he also said his inauguration would be the quickest way to get Trump out of office. His transition staff declined to comment on the latest moves by House Democrats.

With a groundswell of anger among Democrats over the storming of the Capitol on January 6 by a mob encouraged by Trump, Pelosi said the House needed to act speedily.

“The president’s threat to America is urgent, and so too will be our action,” Pelosi said in a statement on Monday.

Hoyer said that the issue at hand “is we have a president most of us believe participated in encouraging an insurrection and an attack on this building and on democracy and trying to subvert the counting of the presidential ballot”.

Among Republicans there’s no unified position emerging on a response to Trump’s actions on January 6, but it’s clear most will oppose impeachment. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy has set a conference call with rank-and-file members for Monday afternoon. But a high-level Republican aide said most Republicans are waiting to see what precisely Democrats decide to do.

There’s been an effort by Republicans to ask Biden to squelch the Democratic momentum for impeaching Trump.

McCarthy, who was among the Republicans who voted against accepting Electoral College votes from two states Biden won — even after the riots — tweeted on Friday that an impeachment “will only divide our country more”.

Separately, a small group of House Republicans who opposed GOP objections to Biden’s Electoral College victory asked the president-elect to persuade Pelosi to back off from impeaching Trump. The legislators, led by Representative Ken Buck of Colorado, warned in a Saturday letter to Biden that impeachment would inflame Trump’s supporters and damage the incoming president’s efforts to unify the country.

A few Republicans have joined calls for Trump to resign, but the president has given no sign he’s contemplating it. He has plans this week to travel to the US-Mexico border area to promote his wall building on the frontier, and is also said to be preparing at least one more round of pardons.

Bloomberg

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