U.S. House introduces impeachment article accusing Trump of 'incitement of insurrection'
Democrat-led House also calls on Pence to use 25th Amendment to remove president
U.S. House Democrats on Monday introduced a resolution containing a single article of impeachment against President Donald Trump, charging him with "incitement of insurrection" for his role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week.
The resolution noted that Trump addressed a rally shortly before his supporters mounted the attack and says he made statements that "encouraged and foreseeably resulted in" the lawless actions at the Capitol. The House of Representatives will begin debating the resolution on Wednesday — and Trump could conceivably become the first U.S. president to be impeached twice by the House during his term.
Earlier, House Republicans blocked a Democratic request to bring up a resolution urging Vice-President Mike Pence to start the U.S. Constitution's 25th Amendment process of removing Trump from office. House Democrats sought agreement to immediately bring up the resolution for debate, but Republicans stopped it on a voice vote.
However, the full House is set to hold a roll call vote on that resolution on Tuesday, and it is expected to pass. After that, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Pence will have 24 hours to respond. Next, the House would proceed to impeachment.
Pence has given no indication he is ready to proceed on a course involving the 25th Amendment. He and Trump met late Monday for the first time since the Capitol attack, a senior administration official said.
Trump and Pence had a "good conversation" in the Oval Office discussing the week ahead, and they pledged to continue working for the remainder of their terms, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.
No member of the Cabinet has publicly called for Trump to be removed from office though the 25th Amendment.
As well, the FBI warned ominously on Monday of potential armed protests in Washington and many states by Trump loyalists ahead of president-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. In a dark foreshadowing, the Washington Monument was being closed to the public amid the threats of disruption.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf also resigned abruptly.
"It is important that we act, and it is important that we act in a very serious and deliberative manner," Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, chair of the House rules committee, told CNN on Monday. "We expect this up on the floor on Wednesday. And I expect that it will pass."
Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, scattering lawmakers who were certifying Biden's election victory, in a harrowing assault on the centre of American democracy that left five dead.
The violence came after Trump urged supporters to march on the Capitol at a rally where he repeated false claims that his resounding election defeat was illegitimate.
Dozens of people who attacked police officers, stole computers and smashed windows at the Capitol have been arrested for their role in the violence, and officials have opened 25 domestic terrorism investigations.
In a video statement after the attack, Trump acknowledged that a new administration would take office on Jan. 20, but he has not appeared in public. Twitter and Facebook have suspended his accounts, citing the risk of him inciting violence.
WATCH l Assessing the pros and cons of the 25th Amendment option:
As security tightened, Biden said Monday he was "not afraid" of taking the oath of office outside — as is traditionally done at the Capitol's west steps, one of the areas where rioters stormed the building.
"It is critically important that there'll be a real serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage — that they be held accountable," he said.
Biden also said he's had conversations with senators ahead of a possible impeachment trial. He suggested splitting lawmakers' time, perhaps "go a half day on dealing with impeachment, a half day on getting my people nominated and confirmed in the Senate, as well as moving on the package" for more COVID-19 relief.
On Monday, the head of the National Guard said at least 10,000 troops will be deployed in Washington, D.C., by Saturday, and an additional 5,000 could be requested from other states.
There are currently 6,200 National Guard members in the capital from D.C. and five nearby states. The increase in requests for Guard members came as officials brace for more, possibly violent, protests surrounding Biden's inauguration.
Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters that he has authorization to bring in up to 15,000 Guard members. He said the number of deployments is changing by the hour and day, based on requests from the Secret Service, the Park Police and the Capitol Police.
There have been repeated questions about why Guard members weren't brought in more quickly as the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol unfolded last Wednesday. Guard officials have said they responded as quickly as they could as the situation spiralled out of control but said the Capitol Police repeatedly turned down offers for help in the days before the protests.
Pence was in the Capitol along with his family when Trump's supporters attacked. But Republicans have shown little interest in invoking the 25th Amendment.
House Democrats impeached Trump in December 2019 for abuse of power and obstructing Congress for pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden, but the Republican-controlled Senate voted not to convict him.
The latest effort by Democrats to force Trump out also faces long odds of success without bipartisan support. Only four Republican lawmakers have so far said publicly that Trump should not serve out the remaining nine days of his term.
The lawmakers who drafted the impeachment charge say they have locked in the support of at least 200 of the chamber's 222 Democrats, indicating strong odds of passage. Biden has so far not weighed in on impeachment, saying it is a matter for Congress.
Unclear when, or if, Senate would take up impeachment
Even if the House impeaches Trump for a second time, the Senate would not take up the charges until Jan. 19 at the earliest, Trump's last full day in office.
An impeachment trial would tie up the Senate during Biden's first weeks in office, preventing the new president from installing cabinet secretaries and acting on priorities such as coronavirus relief.
LISTEN l Canadian-born U.S. commentator David Frum on last week's riot:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was exploring ways to immediately convene the Senate for the trial as soon as the House acts, though Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would need to agree.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, suggested his chamber could avoid that problem by waiting several months to send the impeachment charge over to the Senate.
Trump would be long gone by then, but a conviction could lead to him being barred from running for president again in 2024.
The votes would also force Trump's Republicans to again defend his behaviour.
Several prominent U.S. corporations, including Marriott International Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., have said they will suspend donations to the nearly 150 Republicans who voted against certifying Biden's victory, and more are considering that step.
READ l The impeachment resolution, which has more than 200 co-sponsors:
The Article of Impeachment: Incitement to Insurrection, drafted by Rep <a href="https://twitter.com/davidcicilline?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@davidcicilline</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/RepRaskin?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RepRaskin</a>, me & <a href="https://twitter.com/HouseJudiciary?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@HouseJudiciary</a> staff, has now been formally introduced at the House pro forma session today. <a href="https://t.co/Y6ntbSXF9G">https://t.co/Y6ntbSXF9G</a> <a href="https://t.co/MfB4CpqC6C">pic.twitter.com/MfB4CpqC6C</a>—@tedlieu
Washington remains on high alert ahead of Biden's inauguration. The event traditionally draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city, but it has been scaled back dramatically because of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
Schumer, who will become majority leader after Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris are inaugurated and two new Democratic senators from Georgia are seated, said on Sunday that the threat from violent extremist groups remained high.
Also on Monday, Trump was denied an avenue for his false claims of pivotal election fraud from the highest court in the country. The U.S. Supreme Court steered clear of more cases involving bids by Trump and some Republican allies to overturn his election loss and turned away a Democratic effort to expand mail-in voting in Texas.
The justices, as expected, declined to expedite consideration of eight Trump-related cases, including three filed by his campaign, challenging the election results in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, two of the states he lost to Biden. It was already clear that the court had no intention of intervening because it had not acted before Congress last week certified Biden's victory in the Nov. 3 election.
With files from CBC News