Democrats ready to submit articles of impeachment on Monday; idea of removing the president from office supported by some Republicans
Attempts by Democrats to subject U.S. President Donald Trump to an unprecedented second impeachment just days before the end of his term is gaining momentum, though it seems doubtful to many that enough Republicans will support the move.
Democrats in the House of Representatives are set to introduce articles of impeachment on Monday after Trump prompted his supporters to storm the Capitol on Wednesday, Congressman Ted Lew said on Twitter.
Lew, a Democrat who was involved in drafting the charges, said the articles of impeachment had 190 co-initiators by Saturday evening. Lew’s spokeswoman said that, as of Saturday, there were no Republicans among them.
“We have video footage of the speech in which (Trump) incites the crowd. We have video footage of the crowd violently attacking the Capitol,” Lew wrote on Twitter Saturday.
Trump first praised his supporters at the Capitol, but then condemned the violence they carried out. Reuters sources said the call for calm was made at the urging of senior presidential aides, some of whom claimed he was facing suspension or legal liability.
Authorities are investigating possible lapses in Capitol security. Some lawmakers have questioned whether rioters could have gotten help from people inside the building after photos emerged showing some police officers removing barriers and posing with troublemakers.
“It’s pretty clear that information was shared with these people from inside, and that needs to be investigated,” Congressman Mondair Jones told CNN on Sunday.
If the Democrat-led House of Representatives impeaches Trump, it would lead to an unprecedented second trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, which has previously cleared the president of charges that he was a national security threat.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also asked lawmakers to draft a bill aimed at invoking the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which allows the president to be removed from office if he is unable to perform his duties.
This effort to remove Trump from office has received support from some Republicans. Democrats had demanded that Vice President Mike Pence invoke the 25th Amendment, but he opposed it, one adviser said.
CNN reported Saturday that Pence has not ruled out such a move, but some people around the vice president have expressed concern that any attempts to remove Trump could provoke the president to do reckless things.
A spokesman for Pence did not respond to a request for comment.
President-elect Biden has not taken a definite position on Trump’s impeachment, leaving the issue to Congress. Biden will take office on Jan. 20.
A small but growing number of Republican lawmakers have joined calls for Trump to resign.
Senator Liza Murkowski said Friday that Trump should resign immediately. She said she might quit the party if Republicans don’t break with him.
Senator Pat Toomey told Fox News on Saturday that Trump had “committed acts that are grounds for impeachment” but did not support his removal from office.
On Sunday, however, Toomey said Trump should resign.
“I think the best thing for the country is for the president to resign and leave office as soon as possible,” he said, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I admit it’s unlikely, but I think it would be best,” he added.
Sen. Ben Sasse, who has often criticized Trump, told CBS News that he would “definitely consider” impeachment. But other key Trump allies, including Senator Lindsey Graham and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, have urged Democrats to reject any impeachment attempts.
Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the trial would likely occur after Trump’s term ends when Democrats gain control of the Senate thanks to two runoff victories in Georgia.
If convicted after his term ends, Trump would lose benefits owed to former presidents, including security and pensions.
In addition, the Senate could vote to bar Trump from running for a second term.
However, a conviction requires a two-thirds majority of senators, which would require at least 17 Republican votes.