Washington: Democrats are moving quickly to hold President Donald Trump accountable for the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters, with House lawmakers on course to possibly make him the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will begin voting Monday on a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to have the Cabinet declare Trump unable to carry out his duties. She said the House will begin voting on Trump’s impeachment as soon as Wednesday.
The main challenge is the short timeline before Trump’s final day as president on Jan. 20, when Joe Biden will take the oath of office. The way the process is handled in the House and Senate will affect how quickly Biden will get his Cabinet confirmed and his legislative agenda moving.
Here’s a look at some of the options on the table as Washington grapples with the aftermath of last week’s violence.
Pelosi’s plan for this week
- On Monday, Democrats will introduce several versions of impeachment articles, one of which has nearly the entire House caucus as cosponsors. In the 11 a.m. session, Democrats will also try to pass without objection a resolution calling on Pence and the Cabinet to remove Trump from office using the 25th Amendment.
- This is all but certain to fail because just one member can block it. If so, then the measure will be put on the floor for a full House vote on Tuesday. The resolution gives Pence 24 hours to respond.
- If Pence and the Cabinet don’t act to remove Trump from office, the House will begin the process of voting on impeachment as soon as Wednesday.
- Pelosi said Democrats would also discuss using a provision of the 14th Amendment, which was added to the Constitution after the Civil War to prohibit any government official who participated in or supported an insurrection against the U.S. from holding office in the future.
- House Democrats will have a conference call at 12 p.m. Monday to discuss this plan and other options. Republicans will have a call at 4:30 p.m. Monday.
Also read: Impeach Trump now
No sign that Pence, Cabinet would act
The House’s 25th Amendment resolution gives Pence 24 hours to “declare what is obvious to a horrified Nation: That the President is unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of his office.“ The measure is non-binding.
The amendment, added to the Constitution after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, provides a way to remove the president, either temporarily or permanently. It can be exercised with or without the president’s consent if the president becomes ill or is deemed unfit for office.
Though Pence has expressed some displeasure with Trump for putting him in the difficult position of having to rule against the president’s wishes during the Electoral College count, he has given no indication that he would be willing to invoke the 25th Amendment and has privately dismissed the action, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Even if Pence and a majority of the president’s Cabinet were to invoke the 25th Amendment, Trump could contest the move, kicking the whole matter to Congress for consideration. In that case, two-thirds of both chambers would have to back the president’s removal.
House plans impeachment vote
Several members of Congress have circulated articles of impeachment. An article authored by Representatives Ted Lieu, David Cicilline and Jamie Raskin has at least 210 co-sponsors and will be introduced Monday, according to the members. Representative Ilhan Omar said she also expects to introduce two articles of impeachment on Monday. And Representative Sheila Jackson Lee has drawn up articles of impeachment.
Pelosi said the House will begin voting on impeaching Trump as soon as Wednesday, which would require only a simple majority in the House. Some Republicans, including Trump-critic Adam Kinzinger, have indicated they would vote in favor of impeachment. But Trump still has support among House Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise.
McCarthy and Scalise were among the 121 Republicans who voted to reject the electoral results from Arizona and the 138 Republicans who voted to reject Pennsylvania’s results, even after the attack. McCarthy has argued that impeaching Trump “will only divide our country more.”
There currently are 222 Democrats and 211 Republicans in the 117th Congress. In December 2019, when Democrats had a larger majority, the House voted 230-197 to charge Trump with abuse of power and 229-198 to charge him with obstruction of Congress for soliciting help from the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on Biden, who was then one of several candidates vying for the Democratic nomination.
Convicting Trump would be in hands of Senate
A House vote to impeach Trump for a second time would send the matter over to the Senate for another trial. A year ago, after his first impeachment by the House, Trump escaped conviction by senators.
Proceedings in the Senate are likely to wait until after he leaves office, in part because the chamber is on recess until Jan. 19. With two new Democratic senators from Georgia still to be sworn in, Republican Mitch McConnell will be majority leader until the Senate reconvenes.