The House of Representatives moved closer to impeaching President Trump for a second time Monday, accusing him of inciting an insurrection against the United States government following the riotous invasion of the Capitol last Wednesday.
House Democrats released an impeachment resolution Monday that said by propagating the falsehood that the president lost the November presidential election due to widespread fraud, including during a speech outside the White House to his supporters minutes before the violence began, Trump “made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol.”
The House is expected to vote on the impeachment article as soon as Wednesday. “There is strong support in the Congress for impeaching the president a second time,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, said in an interview with 60 minutes Sunday evening. “The president is guilty of inciting insurrection. He has to pay a price for that.”
Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have suggested that they’d prefer Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the Trump cabinet to band together to declare Trump unable to execute the duties of the presidency using powers granted by the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. House Democrats put forward a resolution Monday that called on Pence to do just that.
Such a move would result in President Trump immediately losing the powers of the presidency, including the power to pardon federal criminals or to act as Commander in Chief of the U.S. military. Though Trump would have the ability to contest an invocation of the 25th Amendment, such a process would likely leave him powerless until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated at noon Eastern Time on Jan. 20.
Many Democrats would likely still favor impeachment even if the 25th Amendment is invoked, because only through the impeachment process could Trump be barred from running for president again or stripped of post-presidential perks like a pension and funding for travel and staff.
It’s possible that a handful of House Republicans also vote to impeach the president this time around, unlike the previous effort that secured on votes of Democrats in the House.
Two-thirds of the Senate would need to vote to remove the president, and it would have to pass a separate resolution to bar him from running for federal office again. With 49 senators caucusing with the Democrats currently, that means 18 Republicans would have to vote to convict. During the previous impeachment proceedings the only Republican Senator to vote to remove Trump from office was Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.
There is also a debate over whether the House will immediately send an article of impeachment to the Senate for consideration after passage. Democratic House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina said on Fox News Sunday that Democrats might delay sending the article to the Senate, so as to not interfere with the upper chamber’s business of confirming President-elect Biden’s incoming cabinet or considering the new administration’s legislative priorities, like additional COVID-related stimulus.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democrat behind Pelosi told reporters Monday that he favored immediately sending the impeachment issue to the Senate after passing the House.
“Whether impeachment can pass the United States Senate is not the issue,” Hoyer said. “The issue is we have a president who most of us believe participated in encouraging an insurrection.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican from Kentucky, reportedly issued a memo Friday that said the Senate would be unable to take up impeachment articles until the Senate is back in session on Jan. 19, just one day before Biden’s inauguration, unless it gets unanimous consent from all 100 Senators to bring the Senate back in session this week.