With just 10 days remaining in his administration, Democrats have threatened to impeach US President Donald Trump for a second time, following the violent riots on Capitol Hill that took place on Wednesday.
Articles of impeachment could be presented against Trump as early as Monday, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) told ABC. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with several Republican lawmakers, called on the president to resign “immediately.”
“But if he does not, I have instructed the Rules Committee to be prepared to move forward with Congressman Jamie Raskin’s 25th Amendment legislation and a motion for impeachment,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Accordingly, the House will preserve every option – including the 25th Amendment, a motion to impeach or a privileged resolution for impeachment.”
The 25th Amendment could be invoked when the “president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Democrats, who said a House vote on impeachment could come by mid-week, hope the impeachment threat will intensify pressure on Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment before Trump’s term ends in less than two weeks.
Articles of impeachment, which are formal charges of misconduct, have been crafted by Democratic Reps. David Cicilline, Lieu and Raskin. Cicilline said on Twitter that 176 members of the House are already co-sponsoring the articles of impeachment.
A copy of the document charges Trump with “Incitement of insurrection,” in a bid to overturn his loss to [President-elect Joe] Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
The articles also cite Trump’s hour-long phone call last week with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump asked the official to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory in that state.
Lieu said on Twitter the draft had 150 co-sponsors.
It is unclear whether lawmakers would be able to remove Trump from office, as any impeachment would prompt a trial in the Senate, where his fellow Republicans still hold power and two-thirds of the 100 members must vote to convict for his removal.
The White House rejected the calls for Trump’s to either resign or to be removed from office. “Impeaching President Donald Trump with 12 days remaining in his presidency would only serve to further divide the country,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere.
Trump’s role in encouraging Wednesday’s chaos has opened a growing rift within the Republican Party.
Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a frequent Trump critic, told CBS News he would “definitely consider” impeachment, because the president “disregarded his oath of office.”
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) said Friday Trump should resign immediately and that if the party cannot separate itself from him, she is not certain she has a future with it.
“I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” the Alaska Senator told the Anchorage Daily News.
The House impeached Trump in December 2019 for pressuring the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden, but the Senate acquitted him in February 2020.
Law professor Brian Kalt said on Twitter that Pelosi’s call for legislation on the 25th Amendment is unlikely to happen before the end of Trump’s presidency.
For the 25th Amendment to be invoked, Pence and the majority of Trump’s Cabinet would need to declare that Trump is unable to perform the duties of the presidency. Pence is opposed to the idea of using the amendment, an adviser said.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell sent a memo to Republican senators detailing a possible timetable for an impeachment trial. He noted the Senate will hold its next work session on January 19 and needs the consent of all 100 senators to convene sooner – meaning a trial would not begin until Trump was out of office, a source familiar with the document told Reuters.
Pelosi said she had spoken with the nation’s top general, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, about preventing Trump from initiating military hostilities or launching a nuclear weapon.
Pelosi told members on a Democratic conference call that she had gotten assurances from Milley that there are safeguards in place, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.
“Sadly the person that’s running the executive branch is a deranged, unhinged, dangerous president of the United States,” she said in an excerpt of an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes program.
In a press conference, President-elect Joe Biden told reporters he viewed Trump as “unfit” for office but said he would let Congress decide what to do.
TWITTER BANS TRUMP
Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account, two days after his supporters stormed the US Capitol.
The social media platform, in which Trump had more than 88 million followers, was considered Trump’s favorite way to communicate with his supporters and a way to share his false claims of election fraud.
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said.
Plans for future armed protests were proliferating on and off Twitter, the company added, including a proposed secondary attack on the Capitol on January 17.
Trump used the official @POTUS government account later on Friday to tweet “We will not be SILENCED!” and “Twitter is not about FREE SPEECH.” Trump said he was considering building his own social media platform.
Twitter quickly deleted those posts.
Trump’s regular use of Twitter was a key part of his campaign as he overhauled the Republican Party and beat Democrat Hillary Clinton to win the presidency in 2016. Since then, he has used it to fire up his political base with attacks on Democrats and any Republicans who have opposed him.
The ACLU criticized Twitter’s decision. “It should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions – especially when political realities make those decisions easier,” the organization said on a statement.
“President Trump can turn to his press team or Fox News to communicate with the public, but others – like the many Black, Brown, and LGBTQ activists who have been censored by social media companies – will not have that luxury,” the ACLU added.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) tweeted that the decision to permanently ban President Trump “is a serious mistake.”
“The Ayatollah can tweet, but Trump can’t. Says a lot about the people who run Twitter,” said Graham.
FBI OFFERS AN AWARD
Trump exhorted thousands of supporters to march on the Capitol as Congress met to certify his defeat to Biden, prompting chaos in which crowds breached the building, forced the evacuation of both chambers and left a police officer and four others dead in their wake.
At least 80 suspects have been arrested in connection to storming the Capitol. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information on who placed pipe bombs in the committee headquarters of both major US political parties in Washington.
Law enforcement agencies had received reports of two suspected devices, one each at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday, the FBI said in a statement.
The statement was accompanied by an image of a masked suspect wearing gloves and a hooded sweatshirt, carrying an object.
“The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the location, arrest and conviction,” it said.
The US Capitol Police said the devices could have caused “great harm.”
“The USCP Hazardous Materials Response Team determined that both devices were, in fact, hazardous and could cause great harm to public safety,” police said in an emailed statement.