Democrats have charged the outgoing US president with ‘incitement of insurrection’ over his role in Wednesday’s storming of the US Capitol
US Democrats began the process Monday of impeaching President Donald Trump for a historic second time, accusing him of “incitement of insurrection” over his supporters’ deadly storming of the US Capitol.
The move, which threatens to torpedo the single-term president’s future political ambitions, could make for a frenetic culmination of four years of controversy ahead of Joe Biden’s 20 January inauguration.
Here is the article of impeachment I just introduced, along with 213 colleagues, against President Trump for Incitement of Insurrection.
Most important of all, I can report that we now have the votes to impeach. pic.twitter.com/RaJIjzQSvm
— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) January 11, 2021
Democrats introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives calling for Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to remove Trump, who has been absent from the public spotlight for days, as unfit for office under the Constitution’s 25th amendment.
But Republicans blocked an immediate vote on the resolution and Democrats followed up by introducing an article of impeachment of Trump for “incitement of insurrection”.
“This was an attempted coup, to overthrow the government, and we have a responsibility as Congress to respond to that,” Congressmen David Cicilline, who introduced the resolution, told reporters afterward.
“We have a particular responsibility to hold everyone accountable who was involved in any way, from the president on down,” he said.
Trump has been largely silent in recent days, making few statements and holding no news conferences. Twitter, his favored public platform, has banned him for language that could incite violence.
He plans to travel to Texas on Tuesday in one of his final trips as president, reportedly to claim success in delivering on his pledge to build a border wall to keep immigrants from Mexico out of the US.
As Democrats began to act, the US Capitol building was open to lawmakers and staff but under tight security and ringed by a metal fence after Wednesday’s assault by Trump supporters that left five people dead.
Historic second impeachment
Inside, some windows and doors that were broken and breached by rioters remained boarded up with plywood, while reinforced glass on the outside doors near the Rotunda bore cracks from repeated battering.
The attack on Congress shook the core of American democracy and drew international condemnation. It has ignited a new effort to remove Trump, who is accused of inciting the mob before it stormed the capitol where lawmakers were certifying Biden’s 3 November win.
Trump was already impeached once by the Democratic-controlled House in December 2019 for pressuring the Ukrainian president to dig up political dirt on Biden.
He was acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate.
If the House again votes to impeach, Trump would be the first US leader to be formally charged for a second time with “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Though time is running short, Democrats likely have the votes in the House to impeach Trump again and could draw increased Republican support for the move.
In introducing the resolution, Cicilline said that while it has no Republican co-sponsors, he expects it will find Republican backing.
Although two Republican Senators — Pat Toomey and Lisa Murkowski — have urged Trump to resign, Democrats are unlikely to muster the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump in the 100-member Senate and remove him from office.
But the effort is nevertheless seen by Democrats as worthwhile. Although any conviction would likely occur after Trump has already left office, it would lead to a secondary vote on banning Trump, who is thought to be considering a run in 2024, from holding federal public office again.
‘I want him out’
Authorities are still seeking to arrest more Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol following a rally by the president repeating false claims that he had lost the election to Biden due to fraud.
Hundreds of off-duty police on Sunday lined Constitution Avenue in Washington and saluted as a hearse rolled slowly by carrying the body of Brian Sicknick, the police officer who died in the attack on the Capitol.
Capitol security has been stepped up and Trump supporters have threatened new action in coming days both in Washington and state capitol buildings.
Senate rules mean the upper chamber would likely be unable to open an impeachment trial before 19 January.
Some Democrats, for their part, have expressed concern that a Senate trial would overshadow and hamper Biden’s efforts to quickly lay out his agenda, starting with the fight against the coronavirus and the need to support the economy.
Mike Pence unlikely to invoke 25th Amendment against Trump
Pence has given no indication he is ready to proceed on such a course, which would involve invoking the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, including a vote by a majority of the Cabinet to oust Trump before he leaves office on 20 January.
Democratic President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in on that date.
Lawmakers were set to introduce the legislation Monday, with voting mid-week.
The four-page impeachment bill draws from Trump’s own false statements about his election defeat to Biden; his pressure on state officials in Georgia to “find” him more votes; and his White House rally ahead of the Capitol siege, in which he encouraged thousands of supporters to “fight like hell” before they stormed the building on Wednesday.
A violent mob of Trump supporters overpowered police, broke through security lines and windows and rampaged through the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to scatter as they were finalizing Biden’s victory over Trump in the Electoral College.
“President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government,” the legislation said.
The bill from Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Jerrold Nadler of New York, said Trump threatened “the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power” and “betrayed” trust.
“He will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office,” they wrote.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Ca., said Monday on CBS, “We need to move forward with alacrity.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will proceed with legislation to impeach Trump as she pushes the vice president and the Cabinet to invoke constitutional authority to force him out, warning that Trump is a threat to democracy after the deadly assault on the Capitol.
A Republican senator, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, joined Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to “resign and go away as soon as possible.”
Lawmakers warned of the damage the president could still do before Joe Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20. Trump, holed up at the White House, was increasingly isolated after a mob rioted in the Capitol in support of his false claims of election fraud. Judges across the country, including some nominated by Trump, repeatedly dismissed cases and Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, said there was no sign of any widespread fraud.
“We will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat,” Pelosi said in a letter late Sunday to colleagues emphasizing the need for quick action.
“The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”
During an interview on “60 Minutes” aired Sunday, Pelosi invoked the Watergate era when Republicans in the Senate told President Richard Nixon, “It’s over.”
“That’s what has to happen now,” she said.
Toomey said he doubted impeachment could be done before Biden is inaugurated, even though a growing number of lawmakers say that step is necessary to ensure Trump can never hold elected office again.
“I think the president has disqualified himself from ever, certainly, serving in office again,” Toomey said. “I don’t think he is electable in any way.”
Murkowski, long exasperated with the president, told the Anchorage Daily News on Friday that Trump simply “needs to get out.” A third, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., did not go that far, but on Sunday he warned Trump to be “very careful” in his final days in office.
On impeachment, House Democrats would likely delay for 100 days sending articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial, to allow Biden to focus on other priorities.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said that instead of coming together, Democrats want to “talk about ridiculous things like ‘Let’s impeach a president’” with just days left in office.
Still, some Republicans might be supportive.
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said he would take a look at any articles that the House sent over. Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a frequent Trump critic, said he would “vote the right way” if the matter were put in front of him.
The Democratic effort to stamp Trump’s presidential record — for the second time — with the indelible mark of impeachment advanced rapidly after the riot.
Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I, a leader of the House effort to draft impeachment articles accusing Trump of inciting insurrection, said Sunday that his group had 200-plus co-sponsors.
Potentially complicating Pelosi’s decision about impeachment was what it meant for Biden and the beginning of his presidency. While reiterating that he had long viewed Trump as unfit for office, Biden on Friday sidestepped a question about impeachment, saying what Congress did “is for them to decide.”
With inputs from AFP and AP
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