As Donald Trump crawls to the finish line of his presidency, Democrats in the House embark on a historic week of resolutions to hold him and Republicans accountable for inflaming the far right with lies and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, a movement that has boiled down. in a violent insurgency on the United States Capitol last Wednesday.
President’s “Responsibility Week” will begin in earnest Tuesday at approximately 7:30 p.m. local time [00.30 GMT]. That’s when the House will vote on a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to remove and replace Mr. Trump as president by invoking the 25th Amendment.
The vice president and his boss did not speak for a week after the Trump-provoked insurgency on Capitol Hill, where Mr. Pence was the target of assassination threats while chairing a joint session of Congress to certify the electoral victory of President-elect Joe Biden.
But Monday night, after their meeting in the Oval Office, Mike Pence pledged to work with Mr Trump “for the remainder of their term,” saying he is unlikely to pull the trigger to impeach Mr. Trump with the advice and consent of the President’s Office.
As a last resort, Democrats will move forward with Mr. Trump’s impeachment on Wednesday. The House will meet at 9:00 am to consider an indictment article against the president accusing him of “inciting insurgency” against the US government.
Members of Congress who drafted the impeachment resolution said they already had enough votes within the slim Democratic majority to pass it.
Unlike Mr. Trump’s first impeachment in December 2019, this one will likely enjoy bipartisan support.
As many as 10 House Republicans, including GOP conference chair Liz Cheney, also considered voting in favor of impeachment on Monday, Politico
First-year GOP congressman Peter Meijer said in a video posted to his Twitter account Monday that he was “strongly considering” removing Mr. Trump.
“What we saw on Wednesday left the president unfit for office,” Meijer said.
Timing issues for the Senate trial
After an internal debate on when to forward the ratified impeachment resolution to the Senate, Democrats appear ready to execute the transfer as soon as possible, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said.
Usually, that would trigger an immediate Senate trial, although this year’s circumstances are complicated: the Senate is not expected to return to town until January 20 – the day of Mr. Biden’s inauguration.
Constitutional scholars and legal scholars have given differing opinions in recent days on whether a former president can be impeached in the Senate.
J Michael Luttig, a retired Federal Court of Appeal judge and former Republican Assistant Attorney General, made the constitutional argument that if the Senate were to convict Mr. Trump and prevent him from performing his duties at the future, he should do so before he leaves office.
“The power of the Senate under the Constitution is only to convict (or not) an incumbent president,” Luttig wrote on Twitter. fil
on the subject Monday.
To avoid such questions of constitutional process, Senatorial Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “is considering using the power given to the two Senate leaders in 2004 to reconvene the Senate in an emergency, to allow a trial. potential to begin immediately after articles of impeachment. sent to the Senate, ”said a senior Democratic official The independent.
Such a move would require the assent of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will become Minority Leader later this month, when Georgia Democratic Senators-elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are sworn in.
While Mr. McConnell has yet to say how he would approach a Senate trial, several Republican senators have already begun to oppose Mr. Trump’s impending impeachment.
Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Roger Wicker of Mississippi both voted to certify Mr. Biden’s election victory last week after pro-Trump mobs stormed the Capitol in an apparent attempt to coup where they interrupted the certification process, threatened lawmakers and ransacked the building.
But impeaching and removing Mr. Trump for his role in inciting the mob is something they simply cannot stand for the country, senators said on Monday.
“In light of President Trump’s Thursday statement promising an orderly transfer of power and calling for healing in our country, a second indictment will do far more harm than good,” Graham tweeted, referring to to a video posted on the @realDonaldTrump site, which has been closed since last Thursday, promising a peaceful transition to a Biden administration.
Mr. Trump quickly regretted releasing this video statement, the New York Times reported and vowed not to resign in the next few days and quietly sink into political oblivion in the years to come.
Yet Mr. Graham takes the president at his word for Thursday’s video, the only statement Mr. Trump has released that goes against dozens and dozens of previous rounds of remarks urging his supporters to “fight” against it. a “stolen election”. About 90 federal justices – including Supreme Court justices – have spoken out against Mr. Trump and Republicans’ challenges to the legitimacy of the 2020 election, saying there was virtually no evidence of widespread fraud .
Mr Graham cited the short impeachment deadline and a subsequent Senate trial as one of the reasons he would not support her.
“I am disappointed to hear that the House is proceeding with a second indictment given that there are only nine days left in a Trump presidency. It is high time for all of us to try to heal our country and move forward. Impeachment would be an important step backwards, ”wrote the South Carolina Republican.
Mr Wicker described a similar mindset in opposing impeachment, and it is certainly one shared by most Republicans in the Senate.
Some GOP members, however, have signaled that they are open to the president’s impeachment and impeachment over the next few days, arguing that he is too unstable to lead the executive branch and that he faces the consequences of his decisions. actions over the past few months that fueled insurgency on Capitol Hill last week.
Five people died from the riot, including a US Capitol Police officer.
Many lawmakers feared for their own lives. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine wrote in an account of Wednesday’s insurgency on Capitol Hill that Mr. Trump “urged to [the insurrectionists] in the first place “.
The House impeachment article formally condemns Mr. Trump for “incitement to insurgency.”
GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have both called on Mr. Trump to step down, although their positions on impeachment and impeachment are unclear.
Senator Ben Sasse has said he will consider firing Mr. Trump in an impeachment trial. The Nebraska Republican called Mr. Trump’s actions “wicked” last Wednesday.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney was the only Republican to vote to convict Mr. Trump in his first impeachment trial. He did not say how he would vote in a second impeachment trial.
Responsibility for the ‘sedition caucus’
While Democrats in Washington rallied around a plan to try to hold Mr. Trump accountable for his actions last Wednesday and throughout the post-election period, they failed to form a cohesive path to punish them. Republicans in the House and Senate who echoed his anti-democratic rhetoric. and fueled the riots.
Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, two of the president’s most staunch allies in the “stop the steal” movement, have already faced scathing editorials from their local newspapers calling on them to step down.
So are Congressman Mo Brooks from Alabama and the dozens of other Republicans – 147 in total – who voted against Mr. Biden’s election victories in two states during last week’s certification. .
Democratic members Tom Malinowski of New Jersey and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida on Monday introduced a resolution formally censuring Mr Brooks for giving an inflammatory speech to the crowd shortly before they came down and invaded the Capitol.
The speech by the Alabama congressman “encouraged and instigated violence against his fellow congressmen, as part of an assault on the United States Capitol designed to prevent the House of Representatives and Senate from fulfill their constitutional obligations to count the votes of electoral colleges, ”Mr. Malinowski and the censure resolution of Ms. Wasserman-Schultz.
But this one-off censorship of Mr Brooks from two Democratic members does not reflect broad agreement within the party on whether to reprimand everyone in the so-called “sedition caucus” – or on force. to reprimand them.
“It’s ad hoc right now,” a Democratic House aide said. The independent Congress’ plan to condemn the words and actions of its own members regarding the 2020 election results and the Capitol riots last week.
” Everyone [is] struggle with himself in the offices, ”the assistant said.
The most extreme proposal presented this week was brought forward by Missouri Congresswoman Cori Bush, a rookie in the progressive cohort of colored members known as “The Squad.”
Building on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, Ms. Bush’s resolution would mandate the House “to investigate and expel GOP members of Congress who attempted to annul the election and incited a white supremacist attack.” , said the MP on Monday.
Such an effort to expel these GOP members from Congress would fail, as it would require two-thirds of the chamber to vote on them.
Republicans control enough seats to block an expulsion move.