Trump impeachment: House Democrats formally introduce resolutions to oust president

Griffin Connolly
·6-min read
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is promising consequences for Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers whose ‘stop the steal’ rhetoric fueled the movement that culminated in the siege of the Capitol last week. (Getty Images)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is promising consequences for Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers whose ‘stop the steal’ rhetoric fueled the movement that culminated in the siege of the Capitol last week. (Getty Images)

House Democrats have formally introduced a pair of resolutions with the end goal of removing Donald Trump from office in the final days of his presidency.

Democratic Congressmen David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, and Ted Lieu of California — all members of the House Judiciary Committee — immediately entered their single-article impeachment resolution into the record when the House convened at 11am on Monday in Washington.

The House is expected to take up that impeachment resolution on Wednesday or Thursday of this week after first trying to convince Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove and replace Mr Trump.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the president “deranged, unhinged, [and] dangerous” in a surreal interview with “60 Minutes” surveying her ransacked office in the US House of Representatives.

Ms Pelosi was one of multiple targets of vague kidnapping and assassination plots when pro-Trump rioters breached police lines and ran roughshod through the Capitol last Wednesday, interrupting Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

Watch: Highlights from Pelosi’s '60 Minutes’ interview following Capitol riots

Five people have died from the riot, including a US Capitol Police officer and a woman who was shot by a policeman just outside the House chamber.

Hundreds of Democrats — and even two Senate Republicans — have called on Mr Trump to resign from office for inciting that mob at a speech on the National Mall shortly before it overtook Capitol Hill.

The Democrats’ impeachment article, which accuses the president of “incitement to insurrection,” already has at least 211 co-sponsors, Congresswoman Deb Dingell of Michigan told reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday.

Mr Trump would be the first president in US history to be impeached twice.

“Impeachment is one of the gravest powers of Congress. It should always be our last option,” Mr Lieu tweeted on Sunday, previewing the legislation agenda for the week.

“If [the president] doesn’t resign or if [the vice president] doesn’t invoke the 25th Amendment, then we will Impeach,” the California congressman wrote.

The impeachment article accuses Mr Trump of inciting the mob last Wednesday by telling it shortly before storming the Capitol that “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

The article states: “In all this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government. He thereby betrayed his trust as President , to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

Mr Trump has also propagated the lie repeatedly over the last several months that the election was stolen from him due to widespread voter fraud, the impeachment article highlights. There has been virtually no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would have swung the election in his favour.

The impeachment article reprimands Mr Trump for demanding that the secretary of state of Georgia “find” him enough votes to overturn Mr Biden’s victory there — in essence, a solicitation of voter fraud.

Other punitive resolutions

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Monday requested “unanimous consent” for a separate resolution from Mr Raskin calling on Mr Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Mr Trump from office after consulting and receiving assent from the president’s Cabinet.

Unanimous consent is DC parlance for a process by which the House may quickly pass a bill or resolution without a formal roll call vote of the full chamber.

Republicans have blocked Mr Hoyer’s unanimous consent request, forcing Democrats to set up a vote on the 25th Amendment resolution on Tuesday.

Once that resolution passes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is giving Mr Pence 24 hours to respond before moving ahead with the article of impeachment against Mr Trump.

Democrats have indicated that some Republicans may join them in the impeachment effort, although that is not the position of House GOP leadership.

“Impeaching the President with just 12 days left in his term will only divide our country more,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “I have reached out to President-elect Biden today and plan to speak to him about how we must work together to lower the temperature and unite the country to solve America’s challenges.”

Take that as you may from Mr McCarthy, who voted last week to block certification of Mr Biden’s electoral victory.

Separately, freshman Congresswoman Cori Bush is leading an effort gaining steam in Democratic circles to remove all 127 Republicans who voted against Mr Biden’s certification through a clause in the 14th Amendment.

Such a move is fated for failure since removing a member requires a two-thirds vote of their respective chamber. Republicans will not vote to kick out any of their own.

Watch: What happens in the impeachment process?

Pelosi speaks out

But Ms Pelosi encouraged the ongoing discussion over booting or censuring GOP members of the House in a Dear Colleague letter on Sunday, demonstrating just how serious she is about the ongoing dangers to members’ safety of the (deeply ironically named) “stop the steal” movement among Mr Trump and his allies.

With no social media platforms on which to vent his rage, Ms Pelosi believes there’s no telling what Mr Trump might do in the next nine days.

“What if he pardons himself?” Leslie Stahl of “60 Minutes” asks Ms Pelosi in the segment that aired on Sunday.

The speaker countered with an equally ominous question.

“What if he pardons these people who are terrorists on the Capitol? What if he does that?” Ms Pelosi said. She also added that if Mr Trump is impeached, the Senate could bar him from ever running for public office again.

“That's one of the motivations that people have for advocating for impeachment,” the speaker said.

Timing is everything

If House Democrats indeed move forward with impeachment — as appears the most likely path forward — they must eventually submit the ratified impeachment article to the Senate for a trial.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, one of Ms Pelosi’s top allies, suggested on Sunday that the House may wait to send impeachment documents to the Senate until after Mr Biden’s first 100 days in office.

Submitting impeachment articles to the upper chamber triggers an almost immediate trial, taking up all the Senate’s floor time. If the House transmitted the documents immediately, that could delay the new Democratic-controlled Senate from voting to confirm Mr Biden’s Cabinet nominations when he takes office later this month.

“Let's give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running, and maybe we'll send the articles sometime after that,” Mr Clyburn said in an interview with CNN on Sunday.

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