The US House of Representatives is pushing forward the impeachment of President Donald Trump for instigating a deadly assault on Capitol Hill, while some of its supporters threaten armed uprisings in cities across the country in the coming days.
Democrats on Monday introduced both a motion calling on Vice President Mike Pence to strip Mr. Trump of his powers under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution as well as a single article of impeachment, for “incitement to insurgency” .
“President Trump has seriously endangered the security of the United States and its government institutions,” the impeachment bill reads. “He will remain a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution if he is allowed to remain in office.”
Trump’s unilateral political pursuit risks further upheaval
The motion on the 25th Amendment is expected to receive a vote on Tuesday. If it passes and Mr Pence does not comply within 24 hours, the House will vote on impeachment. Republican lawmakers, led by West Virginia Congressman Alex Mooney, on Monday blocked an effort to unanimously pass the motion. The Vice President has been publicly silent on the 25th Amendment, an extraordinary step that would allow Mr. Pence to take back powers from Mr. Trump.
With the president only nine days into his term before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, Democrats have said the attack on Mr. Trump-fueled democracy was so blatant he must face serious denunciations. They also hope to prevent him from taking up federal office again, by closing the door during an effort to return in 2024.
“This president is guilty of inciting insurgency. He must pay the price, ”said President Nancy Pelosi in an interview with 60 minutes, in which she described Mr. Trump as “disturbed” and “dangerous”.
The impeachment resolution has over 200 co-sponsors and only needs a simple majority to pass the Democratic-controlled House. More complicated is the situation in the Senate, which requires a two-thirds vote to convict the president after a trial. This chamber will be divided equally between the two parties from next week, when Georgia’s two new Democratic senators are sworn in.
Mr Trump’s accelerated impeachment – which would make him the first president to face sanction twice – comes against the backdrop of a country still reeling from the attack on Congress in which at least five people died and dozens more were injured.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf tendered his resignation on Monday, Politico reported, continuing the administration’s constant dismantling. He is the third member of Mr. Trump’s cabinet to resign since the riot, after Elaine Chao in transport and Betsy DeVos in education.
The president waged a two-month long campaign to overturn Mr Biden’s Democratic victory by urging his supporters to protest and pressuring election officials to overturn the November 3 results. if he does not “find” more votes for Mr. Trump.
The push culminated last Wednesday, when the president called on his supporters to rally in Washington, then urged them to come down to Capitol Hill and “fight like hell” as Congress meets to certify Mr. Biden.
As Congress planned to defenestate Mr. Trump, his supporters have predicted further attacks starting this weekend. An FBI bulletin obtained by the US media warned that armed groups were seeking to target Washington, all 50 state capitals and federal courthouses across the country. An “identified armed group” aiming to strike the nation’s capital threatened a “huge uprising” if Mr Pence invoked the 25th Amendment, the bulletin said.
In pro-Trump online forums, users promoted a nationwide day of action on January 17, followed by a “Million Militia March” when Mr. Biden was sworn in on January 20. Some of the messages called on people to bring weapons.
The National Guard announced Monday that it would send up to 15,000 troops to Washington. The National Park Service has closed public access to the Washington Monument near the White House until January 24. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, who described the storming of Capitol Hill as an “unprecedented terrorist attack,” has asked the Department of Homeland Security to revoke all public assembly permits for the next two weeks.
Internet companies decided to shut down forums where new attacks were being discussed. After rioters on Capitol Hill openly spoke of an armed insurgency on Speak – a social media app used by the far-right – Amazon kicked the site off its servers over the weekend, forcing it to go offline.
Mr Biden said Monday he still plans to be inaugurated outside the Capitol rather than relocate to another location. “I’m not afraid to take the oath outside,” the president-elect told reporters in Newark, Del.
Mr Biden said he was working with congressional leaders to find a way for the Senate to pass his platform while simultaneously leading Mr Trump’s trial. The President’s previous trial in the Senate, which resulted in the acquittal, lasted 20 days. “Can we spend half a day dealing with the impeachment, and half a day getting my people appointed and confirmed in the Senate, as well as [pandemic relief] package? Said the president-elect.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled that the Upper House will not take up the matter until the day before Mr. Trump leaves at the earliest, making his resignation from power extremely unlikely. But Democrats are determined to continue the process in the hopes of preventing Mr. Trump from running again.
Congressman Jim Clyburn suggested on CNN on Sunday that the House could vote to impeach Mr. Trump, but wait 100 days before sending the matter back to the Senate. This would give Mr Biden time to have his cabinet candidates confirmed by lawmakers and pass priority legislation before the Senate is tied to the trial.
So far, only a handful of Republicans have called on Mr. Trump to step down. Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey joined his Alaska counterpart Lisa Murkowski on Sunday in calling on the president to step down. “That’s the best way to go, the best way to get that person in the rearview mirror,” he told CNN.
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse and Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger – the two Republicans – also said they were open to impeachment.
Under the provisions of the 25th Amendment, the Vice-President may declare the President “incapable of discharging the powers and duties of his office”, with the agreement of the majority of the cabinet or other body appointed by the Congress. In such a scenario, Mr. Pence would assume the powers of Mr. Trump until Mr. Biden takes over.
With a report from Reuters
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by The Globe’s editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. register today.