The effort to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time in a little more than a year gained steam on Friday as a growing number of Democrats in Congress signaled their support for the move.
In a letter to her Democratic colleagues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested that she would move forward with impeachment proceedings if the president doesn’t resign or if Vice President Pence and a majority of the Trump cabinet decline to remove him from power using the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.
“Following the President’s dangerous and seditious acts, Republicans in Congress need to … call on Trump to depart his office – immediately,” she wrote. “If the President does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action. “
Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, the fourth ranking Democrat in the House leadership, said on Twitter Friday that her caucus is “actively working to determine the timeline and the quickest path to hold Trump accountable,” which could include voting on impeachment by the middle of next week.
Even moderate Democrats, including Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia called for the president’s removal. “If we refuse to respond to a U.S. President inciting an uprising against our democracy, we risk losing it forever,” Spanberger said in a statement.
“Time — along with securing 67 senators to convict — would seem to be the two biggest impediments” to removing Trump from office through impeachment, wrote Chris Krueger, an analyst with Cowen Washington Research Group, in a client note Friday. “Articles of impeachment would have to be drawn, House Judiciary Committee hearing & vote, House vote, then a Senate trial in approximately 300 hours during a pandemic.”
The constitution, however, does not require the House hold a vote in the judiciary committee, and a group of House Democrats have already unveiled a resolution that charges Trump with abusing the power of the president “by attempting to unlawfully overturn the results of the November 2020 Presidential election in the State of Georgia” and “to incite violence and orchestrate an attempted coup against our country,” according to Roll Call.
This resolution could be voted on by the House in relatively short order, but the real obstacle for removing the president would be the Senate, where the standing rules require there to be a formal trial before voting on removal.
President Trump’s first impeachment trial took about two weeks to complete, and it was a relatively speedy affair given that no witnesses were called. The Senate could agree by unanimous consent to change the rules on impeachment to allow a fast vote on removal, but it is unlikely to happen given that several Republicans in the upper house remain loyal to the president, with others at least reluctant to oust him from office.
To actually remove the president from office, 2/3 of the Senate would have to vote to remove him from office. With 49 senators caucusing with the Democrats currently, that means 18 Republicans would have to vote to convict.
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the only Republican to vote to remove Trump from office during his impeachment trial last year, told the Huffington Post Thursday that “I think time is a little short” to pursue impeachment. “I think we’ve got to hold our breath for the next 20 days,” he said.
“House can pass articles of impeachment relatively quickly, but Senate trial would be lengthy and therefore unlikely,” wrote Steve Pavlick, head of policy at Renaissance Macro in a Friday note to clients.
Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, also said Thursday that he does not yet support removing Trump from office. “As a Republican, I don’t support an effort to invoke the 25th Amendment,” he said. “Now if something else happens all options would be on the table,” he added suggesting Republicans may change their mind if the president were to start taking rash actions, like pardoning perpetrators of the Capitol invasion.