In Wake Of Capitol Attack, House Begins Moves To Impeach Trump — Again
Updated 5:45 p.m. ET
With nine days left before President Trump's term comes to an end, the House of Representatives is forging ahead with plans to try to remove the president from office over his role in his supporters' violent attack last week on the U.S. Capitol.
On Monday, House Democrats filed an impeachment resolution charging Trump with inciting an insurrection. A vote is expected this week, likely on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the House is also moving forward with a resolution calling on Vice President Pence to invoke the Constitution's 25th Amendment, relieving Trump of his duties until his term ends next week.
Timing on the Senate side on impeachment is more uncertain, but a senior Democratic aide told NPR that Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is exploring options for getting the chamber to act sooner.
25th Amendment resolution
During a pro forma session Monday morning, House Democrats attempted to pass the 25th Amendment measure by unanimous consent. But unanimous consent only works if there is no objection, and as expected, a Republican did object: Rep. Alex Mooney of West Virginia.
On Tuesday, the House is expected to debate the measure and hold a full floor vote.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she's asked Pence to respond within 24 hours. Pence has made no indication that he's planning to invoke that authority.
Then Democrats would proceed with the impeachment process, which would come more than a year after they impeached Trump for his role in the Ukraine affair.
The article of impeachment
House Democrats' article of impeachment cites both Trump's incitement of his supporters on Wednesday and his call to Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump encouraged the official to "find" enough votes to overturn the election in the state.
"President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government," the Democrats' impeachment resolution states. "He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government." As of Sunday evening, more than 200 House members had signed on as co-sponsors of the resolution.
On Sunday, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., suggested it could be months before the impeachment measure, should it pass, is sent to the Senate — a move that would enable the upper chamber to begin acting on President-elect Joe Biden's early legislative agenda and confirm his Cabinet nominees before undertaking a trial.
On Monday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the No. 2 Democrat in the House, told reporters on Capitol Hill that he would like to send the impeachment measure to the Senate as soon as possible, although ultimately that decision rests with Pelosi.
Given the timeline and required action from the Senate, removing Trump from office before Jan. 20 is unlikely — if not impossible. However, Schumer is looking into using emergency authority that would let him and Republican leader Mitch McConnell call the Senate back early for a trial, a senior Democratic aide said.
If the Senate vote doesn't happen before Trump would leave office anyway, Trump could still be at risk of being barred from future office.
White House spokesman Judd Deere has called the impeachment effort "politically motivated" and said it would "only serve to further divide our great country."
Biden was asked about impeachment on Monday and said his first priority is to pass another stimulus bill. He shared he had spoken earlier Monday with senators, who discussed the possibility of splitting days between an impeachment trial and confirming Biden's nominees and passing more economic relief.
Asked if Trump engaged in sedition, Biden replied: "I've been clear that President Trump should not be in office. Period."
On Friday, Biden had said the decision whether to pursue impeachment was Congress' to make.
Trump's actions prompted immediate calls for his removal from both political opponents and some Republicans once considered allies. But even those who criticize Trump are not in agreement over whether impeachment is the best approach.
GOP Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota told NPR's Rachel Martin that while he believes Trump "deserves a greater than average share of the blame" for the rioting at the Capitol, he also puts the blame on the political rhetoric in the country that he says has built up over a long time.
"[We should ask] in this moment, what is the right thing to do for the country? And it may well be that impeachment could create far more division, and that a different accountability mechanism would be more appropriate."