By Brandi Buchman | Courthouse News
WASHINGTON (CN) — House Democrats introduced articles of impeachment Monday alongside a resolution that invokes the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump for having incited the rioters who led an insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol last week.
Since the resolution was entered seeking unanimous consent, it failed after a single objection from Representative Alex Mooney of West Virginia. Further debate will be heard in the coming days.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer introduced the measure to invoke the 25th Amendment on the House floor, a place where a violent mob assault was unleashed just five days earlier after Trump delivered a fiery speech decrying the results of the 2020 election without evidence.
The resolution was first introduced by Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a longtime constitutional scholar. Anchored to a number of horrific events that played out for the world to see on Jan. 6, the resolution calls for Trump’s removal through the proper constitutional channel in just six short pages.
Chillingly, the resolution cites the significant threat that the insurrectionary mob posed to the safety and lives of those next in the line of succession to the president: Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Grassley, the president pro tempore of the Senate.
Rioters could be heard chanting “Where’s Nancy?” and “Hang Pence!” during the melee on Jan. 6 as Trump tweeted out to his supporters: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country.”
The social media platform would ban Trump by Friday.
By the time Trump had issued the inflammatory tweets on Wednesday, however, the Capitol was fully overrun and Pence was put into hiding. The White House has not returned multiple requests for comment on the state of relations between the president and vice president as of Monday, but widespread reports citing anonymous officials now circulating suggest they are in tatters.
The resolution also blames Trump’s incitement with causing a mob attack on police officers, as well as the pilfering and ransacking of federal offices. Government property, including a laptop Pelosi uses for presentations, was stolen, as the insurrection “unleashed chaos and terror among members and staffers and their families.”
Section IV of the 25th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution states that if the vice president and a majority of the president’s Cabinet agree the president is unable to discharge his duties, they must immediately transmit this to the president pro tempore of the Senate and to the speaker of the House.
Pence then assumes the powers of acting president. Trump can contest this for up to four days. Pence must then redeclare Trump’s unfitness to remain in the acting role of president until Congress casts a vote. Lawmakers are allowed up to two days of debate and up to 21 days to vote for invocation of the 25th Amendment.
Two-thirds of the House and Senate must unify to successfully enforce this check and balance against the executive branch.
Lawmakers argue that allowing Trump to remain in office, even for just the very last week of his tumultuous four year term, poses too severe a threat to national security.
“Whereas Donald Trump has demonstrated repeatedly, continuously and spectacularly, his absolute inability to discharge the most basic and fundamental powers and duties of his office, including most recently, the duty to respect the legitimate results of the presidential election, the duty to respect the peaceful transfer of democratic power under the Constitution the duty to participate in legally defined transition activities, the duty to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States, including the counting of Electoral College votes by Congress, the duty to protect the people of the United States and their elected representatives against domestic insurrection, mob rule, and seditious violence, and generally, the duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” the resolution states.
For these reasons, it continues, the invocation of the 25th Amendment also demands impeachment come next.
Raskin and Representatives Ted Lieu of California and David Cicilline of Rhode Island formally introduced their “incitement of insurrection” article of impeachment on Monday. It has received support from over 200 Democrats, citing Trump’s historical pattern of trying to subvert or obstruct the certification of the 2020 election such as the Jan. 2 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump begged the secretary to “find” enough votes for him so he could overturn election results.
“In all of this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government,” the insurrection article of impeachment states. “He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with a peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coordinate branch of government. He thereby betrayed his trust as president tot he manifest injury of the people of the United States.”
Last week, Representative Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, also prepared articles of impeachment, levying charges of high crimes and misdemeanors and abuse of power.
“Donald John Trump has abused the powers of the Presidency to incite violence and orchestrate an attempted coup against our country,” Omar’s articles state.
It is not yet clear which articles House leadership will ultimately select to spur Trump’s second impeachment. A vote to impeach in the House is not expected until at least Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who will soon become minority leader following twin Democrat victories in the Georgia run-off — said this weekend that the soonest the Senate would consider impeaching is Jan. 19.
This is because the body is currently in recess until then and without unanimous consent to reopen the work period by all 100 senators, business cannot be conducted during a lame duck session.
With President-elect Joe Biden inauguration scheduled for Jan. 20, the Senate could, at the least, receive a message from the House announcing Trump has been impeached.
McConnell, in a memo that first began circulating this weekend among lawmakers, explained that even if the House sends its message and the Senate receives it on Jan. 19, other scheduling issues remain.
Even if the Senate received the message on Jan. 19 and the necessary impeachment managers were already appointed in the House, the Senate would still have to be ready to act by Jan. 20 by beginning the trial that day or on Jan. 21.
Rules of an impeachment trial mandate the chief justice of the Supreme Court preside over a president’s trial. But once Trump becomes a former president as of noon on January 20, it is less clear who would preside.
Republicans in the House have been less enthusiastic about impeaching Trump.
U.S. Representatives, led by Colorado Republican Ken Buck, have said impeaching Trump would only heighten tensions. Buck has been joined by Republicans including Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and others.
In the Senate, so far just two Republicans have called for Trump’s removal including Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Even as the attack on Jan. 6 brought bloodshed, lawmakers were still able to finish the long tradition of counting votes certified by the Electoral College. Meanwhile, new threats of violence are already surfacing online from Trump supporters, white supremacists, and militia groups hellbent on seeing the loser of the 2020 election stay in office.
Joe Biden beat Trump to become 46th president of the United States with an overwhelming victory of 306-232 in the Electoral College.