January 13, 2021 08:18
The Democrat-majority U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote Tuesday on a resolution calling for Vice President Mike Pence and members of President Donald Trump's Cabinet to use their constitutional authority to remove Trump from office. The measure, which is expected to pass, sets a 24-hour deadline for Pence to respond.
"The President represents an imminent threat to our Constitution, our Country and the American people, and he must be removed from office immediately," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Monday.
Neither Pence nor any Cabinet member has given public indication of supporting such action involving the 25th Amendment's provision allowing for the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare a president "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."
Trump and Pence met late Monday at the White House for the first time since pro-Trump rioters attacked the U.S. Capitol last week. A senior administration official said the two "reiterated that those who broke the law and stormed the Capitol last week do not represent the America first movement backed by 75 million Americans, and pledged to continue the work on behalf of the country for the remainder of their term."
Pence drew Trump's anger by rejecting the president's efforts to overturn their November election loss to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. House leaders are also pushing ahead with a separate impeachment resolution that lawmakers are scheduled to begin considering Wednesday morning.
Even though Trump's four-year term expires at noon Jan. 20, the four-page impeachment resolution said Trump has "demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law."
The four-page impeachment resolution cites Trump's unfounded accusations that he was cheated out of a second four-year term by vote and vote-counting irregularities, his pressure on election officials in the southern state of Georgia to "find" him more than 11,000 votes to overtake Biden's margin of victory in the state, and his statements at a rally last Wednesday urging thousands of supporters to march to the Capitol to pressure lawmakers to overturn the election outcome.
A total of 218 Democrats have signed on to the resolution, ensuring a majority in the 435-member House without any Republican votes against the outgoing Republican president. But it is unclear whether House leaders would immediately send the resolution to the Senate for a trial on whether to convict Trump and remove him from office, given that his term ends next week.
Biden said it is his "hope and expectation" that the Senate could simultaneously hold an impeachment trial and confirm his Cabinet appointments after he takes office, while also approving more aid for the flagging U.S. economy weakened by the soaring coronavirus pandemic. He said Monday of the rioters, "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."
Biden also told reporters, "I'm not afraid of taking the oath outside," referring to next week's swearing-in ceremony, which traditionally takes place at the U.S. Capitol's west steps, one of the areas where people stormed the building.
Even if Trump has already left office, a Senate impeachment conviction after his term ends could mean he would not hold federal office again. Republican Congressman Tom Reed said in a New York Times opinion piece that he would join an unspecified number of House colleagues in introducing a censure resolution against Trump on Tuesday as an alternative to a "hasty impeachment." "If our leaders make the wrong decision in how to hold him accountable, it could damage the integrity of our system of justice, further fan the flames of division, and disillusion millions of Americans -- all while failing to accomplish anything," Reed wrote.
Trump, banned from Twitter for his false, incendiary comments alleging election fraud, has not publicly commented on the effort to impeach him a second time, which would give him a singular distinction among 45 U.S. presidents in the 245-year history of the United States. The House impeached him the first time in late 2019, accusing him of trying to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden ahead of last November's election, but the Senate acquitted him in early February.
At last Wednesday's rally near the White House, Trump told several thousand people, "If you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore." The largely white mob that walked to the Capitol quickly overwhelmed police there, storming inside in droves, breaking windows, ransacking some congressional offices and scuffling with security officials.
Dozens of Trump supporters have been arrested, and authorities are scouring security videos and social media accounts the rioters posted of themselves inside the Capitol to identify other wrongdoers. Five people died in the mayhem, including a police officer whose death is being investigated as a homicide.
Trump has refused to concede his defeat or congratulate Biden, but he has acknowledged there will be a "new administration" come Jan. 20. Trump has announced that he will not attend Biden's inauguration, ignoring a long-standing tradition in the United States of an outgoing chief executive witnessing his successor take office as a show of the peaceful transition of power in the U.S. democracy.
Pence, however, does plan to attend the ceremony, which will be downscaled significantly because of the surging number of coronavirus cases in the United States.
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