House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday the House will go ahead with impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump as she pushes Vice President Mike Pence to invoke constitutional authority to remove Trump from office following last week’s deadly assault on the Capitol.
On Monday, Pelosi’s leadership team will seek a vote on a resolution calling on the vice president and Cabinet officials to invoke the 25th Amendment, a constitutional provision that allows the vice president and the Cabinet to remove the president from office if they deem him unable to perform his duties.
Pence and the Cabinet would have 24 hours to act before the House would move towards impeachment.
“We will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat,” Pelosi said in a letter late on Sunday to colleagues.
“The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”
A stunning end to Trump’s final 10 days in office was under way as politicians warned of the damage the president could still do before President-elect Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 20.
Trump, holed up at the White House, was increasingly isolated after a mob rioted in the Capitol in support of his false claims of election fraud. Five people were killed in the violence at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
A Republican senator, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, joined Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in calling for Trump to “resign and go away as soon as possible”.
During an interview on 60 Minutes aired on Sunday, Pelosi invoked the Watergate era when Republicans in the Senate told President Richard Nixon, “It’s over.”
“That’s what has to happen now,” she said.
With impeachment planning intensifying, Toomey said he doubted impeachment could be done before Biden is inaugurated, even though a growing number of politicians say that step is necessary to ensure Trump can never hold elected office again.
“I think the president has disqualified himself from ever, certainly, serving in office again,” Toomey said. “I don’t think he is electable in any way.”
While many have criticised Trump, Republicans have said that impeachment would be divisive in a time of unity.
Senator Marco Rubio from Florida said that instead of coming together, Democrats want to “talk about ridiculous things like ‘Let’s impeach a president’” with just days left in office.
Still, some Republicans might be supportive.
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said he would take a look at any articles that the House sent over. Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, a frequent Trump critic, said he would “vote the right way” if the matter were put in front of him.
The Democratic effort to stamp Trump’s presidential record – for the second time – with the indelible mark of impeachment had advanced rapidly since the riot.
Representative David Cicilline from Rhode Island, a leader of the House effort to draft impeachment articles accusing Trump of inciting insurrection, said on Sunday that his group had 200-plus co-sponsors.
The articles, if passed by the House, could then be transmitted to the Senate for a trial, with senators acting as jurors to acquit or convict Trump.
If convicted, Trump would be removed from office and succeeded by the vice president. It would be the first time a US president had been impeached twice.
Potentially complicating Pelosi’s decision about impeachment was what it meant for Biden and the beginning of his presidency.
While reiterating that he had long viewed Trump as unfit for office, Biden on Friday sidestepped a question about impeachment, saying what Congress did “is for them to decide”.
A violent and largely white mob of Trump supporters overpowered police, broke through security lines and windows and rampaged through the Capitol on Wednesday, forcing lawmakers to scatter as they were finalising Biden’s victory over Trump in the Electoral College.
The US Congress finally certified Biden’s victory.