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House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Monday, accusing him of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in incentivizing the deadly occupation of the U.S. Capitol building by armed pro-Trump supporters on January 6.
Drafted by Democratic Reps. David Cicilline, Ted Lieu, and Jamie Raskin, amid pressure from the Democratic caucus and its constituents, the article would immediately remove Trump from office.
As seen during the first impeachment proceedings against Trump, Congress can impeach a president for what the US Constitution vaguely defines as “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
This time around, the impeachment article says Trump committed a single high crime: “inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”
Trump’s “willfully made statements, that, in context, encouraged—and foreseeably resulted in—lawless action at the Capitol," meaning that due to this rhetoric, his supporters “unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violence, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.”
And that Trump used the presidency's power to try to pressure election officials, including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election illegally.
As a result of these actions, the impeachment article states Trump “has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution is allowed to remain in office.”
The article continues by noting that due to the 14th Amendment’s language barring any American who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the US from holding office, that Trump, if convicted in the Senate, would not just be removed, but wholly disallowed from seeking public office ever again.
The impeachment article should draw the support of nearly — if not all — House Democrats; by Sunday evening, Lieu said the article had 210 cosponsors.
However, Republicans are pushing back against impeachment.
What Republicans support the impeachment article will gain, if any, remains to be seen. While GOP Sen. Pat Toomey has said, “I do think the president committed impeachable offenses,” he did not say that meant Trump should be impeached.
In the House, Trump critic Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) told ABC News on Sunday he would “vote the right way” should impeachment be brought to the floor, adding, “I just think it’s probably not the smartest move right now,” because “I think it victimizes Donald Trump again.”
Recently GOP Rep. Nancy Mace joined fellow Republican Reps. Thomas Massie, Ken Buck, Kelly Armstrong, Mike Gallagher, Chip Roy, and Tom McClintock in sending a letter to President-elect Joe Biden asking him to intercede with House Democrats to stop the impeachment process.
“A second impeachment, only days before President Trump will leave office, is as unnecessary as it is inflammatory,” the letter said.
Democrats, too, had hoped to avoid beginning impeachment proceedings. Vox’s Andrew Prokop reported on Wednesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have “both framed impeachment as a fallback plan. Their true hope, they said, was that Vice President [Mike] Pence and the Cabinet would invoke the 25th Amendment.”
The 25th Amendment gives the vice president and the Cabinet the ability to strip a president deemed unfit for the office of their powers.
Though removal through this amendment seems unlikely, as Prokop has explained, any 25th Amendment removal would have to be led by Pence, who supposedly opposes doing so. Also complicating things is that most of Trump’s Cabinet would have to sign onto the plan; however, several secretaries have chosen to resign.
Nevertheless, House Democrats brought a resolution calling on Pence to remove Trump via the 25th Amendment to the House on Monday — both to signal that this would be their preference and to further pressure Pence into moving quickly.
According to a CNN report, Pence sees the amendment as a last resort and wants to keep it on the table as an option should Trump become “more unstable.”
Democrats’ resolution on the 25th Amendment failed, as they were attempting to pass it by unanimous consent (essentially, a process in which the resolution would be passed as long as all present representatives agreed to it), given the full House has technically not yet reconvened. That said, West Virginia GOP Rep. Alex Mooney objected to it.
The resolution is likely to pass once the House resumes regular session, as Democrats have a majority, and all are likely to vote in favor.
But it is not expected to actually sway Pence’s thinking on the 25th Amendment, forcing Democrats to proceed with impeachment if they try to remove Trump and bar him from seeking office again.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Monday that a vote on the article of impeachment itself is expected on Wednesday.