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Democrats march towards second Trump impeachment
President Donald Trump is slated to leave office in just nine days. But after last week’s attack at the Capitol, congressional Democrats are attempting to speed his exit process along.
Their first preference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told colleagues in a letter on Sunday, is that Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of Cabinet officers remove Trump by invoking the 25th Amendment. Democrats will attempt to introduce a resolution today on the House floor calling on Pence to act, but it will require unanimous consent to move forward.
If a House Republican objects — which is likely — Democrats plan to formally move to a vote on the resolution on Tuesday. “We are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours,” Pelosi wrote. If he does not boot his boss from power, Democrats are expected to vote Wednesday on articles of impeachment charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”
The push to remove Trump from office has gained some support from Republicans. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) have both called on the president to resign, with Toomey telling Fox News that he believes Trump “committed impeachable offenses.” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) also called on Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment.
Democrats, meanwhile, are headed into the week almost completely united behind impeaching Trump again — just 13 months after he became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached at all. “There is strong support in the Congress for impeaching the president a second time,” Pelosi said in a “60 Minutes” interview. “This President is guilty of inciting insurrection. He has to pay a price for that."
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) announced Sunday that the impeachment articles, which he helped author, now have 210 cosponsors. Impeachment requires a majority vote in the House, which would currently be 217 members.
After the House votes, a two-thirds majority of the Senate (67 senators) would have to vote to convict Trump for him to be removed from office. No president has ever been convicted by the Senate before. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) penned a memo to Senate Republicans explaining that because the chamber is currently on recess, the earliest they could begin an impeachment trial would be January 19, the last full day of President Trump’s term.
There is some precedent for the Senate holding an impeachment trial after an official left office: The chamber held a trial for War Secretary William Belknap in 1876, although Belknap had resigned minutes before he was impeached by the House.
Many Democratic lawmakers have said it would be worth it to convict Trump even after his presidency ends, because the Senate could then bar him from holding office again under Article I, Section 3, Clause 7 of the Constitution. Three individuals in history — all federal judges — have been disqualified from holding future office by the Senate; such an action only requires a majority vote, although it must follow a conviction by two-thirds of the chamber.
However, some Democrats have expressed concerns about an impeachment trial overshadowing the early days of President-elect Joe Biden’s tenure. (The Senate cannot consider other measures during a trial, such as confirming Biden’s nominees or approving his policy priorities.) House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) suggested on CNN that Democrats could wait to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate until after Biden’s first 100 days in office, although it is unclear if they plan to move forward with that approach.
More fallout from the Capitol attack
Here’s what else you need to know, five days after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol:
- Twitter banned President Trump from its platform on Friday “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” According to Politico, he went “ballistic” after the suspension went into place and is now searching for new ways to recreate his powerful social media megaphone. The president has also been kicked off of Facebook and Instagram, while Amazon, Apple, and Google have all taken actions against Parler — a social media platform used by Trump supporters.
- Dozens of individuals have been charged with federal or local crimes since the attack on the Capitol last week. Some of those arrested include Jake Angeli, the “QAnon Shaman” who was photographed wearing fur and horns; Adam Johnson, who stole a lectern from Speaker Pelosi’s office; Richard Barnett, who sat with his feet on Pelosi’s desk; and Derrick Evans, a West Virginia lawmaker who participated in the riot.
- As the Associated Press wrote this morning, as the arrests have piled up and more information has emerged about the rioters, “the sinister nature of the assault has become evident.” The FBI is investigating whether some of the rioters intended to kill or capture lawmakers, with new videos showing how close the riot came to becoming a mass casualty event. (Five deaths have been linked to the Capitol riot; additionally, a Capitol police officer who was on duty last Wednesday committed suicide this weekend.)
- Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has become a “pariah” on Capitol Hill after continuing his push to object to President-elect Biden’s victory even after the riot last week, according to NBC News. Some Democratic lawmakers are pushing to expel Hawley and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) from Congress, while a collection of large corporations have announced they will halt any political donations to Republicans who sought to overturn Trump’s election loss.
More information has emerged about President Trump’s push for Georgia officials to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The Washington Post reported Saturday that Trump urged the state’s lead elections investigator to “find the fraud” in a December phone call, which some legal experts said could constitute obstruction of justice. The president also called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger earlier this month and pressured him to “find 11,780 votes” so Trump could win the state.
- Another revelation emerged this weekend, when the Wall Street Journal reported that White House officials pressured the U.S. Attorney in Atlanta into resigning last week because Trump was upset he wasn’t doing enough to investigate election fraud.
- A set of impeachment articles introduced by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) would charge Trump with abusing his power to overturn the Georgia results, as well as to incite the riot at the Capitol. Her articles are not expected to be advanced by the Democratic majority.
President-elect Joe Biden announced this morning that he plans to nominate veteran diplomat William Burns as director of the CIA. Burns, who currently leads the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, served as Deputy Secretary of State from 2011 to 2014. When he left the Obama administration, Burns had spent 33 years as a career diplomat, including stints as ambassador to Russia and Jordan.
- Biden introduced Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Gov. Gina Raimondo (D-RI) as his nominees to lead the Labor and Commerce Departments, respectively, on Friday. He has now named all 23 of his Cabinet secretaries and Cabinet-level officials.
As the coronavirus vaccine begins to be distributed across the United States, cases of the virus are continuing to spike. The U.S. recorded more than 300,000 new cases on Friday and more than 4,100 deaths from the virus on Thursday, both single-day records for the country.
- As the New York Times notes, the latest surge is unique in that it has not been confined to one geographic area. Instead, the five states currently averaging the most daily new cases per person — Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and South Carolina — are scattered across the country.
All times Eastern.
President Donald Trump has no public events scheduled. According to the White House, he “will work from early in the morning until late in the evening” and “will make many calls and have many meetings,” although none of them were listed.
- According to Politico, President Trump plans to present Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) with the Presidential Medal of Freedom today. Jordan is the second prominent Trump ally to be given the medal in as many weeks, after Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
- A Trump adviser told CBS News that it is likely the president will make remarks today about Twitter banning him from the platform, as well as about “legacy items” of his presidency.
Vice President Mike Pence will lead a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting at 2 p.m. in the Situation Room.
President-elect Joe Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief and meet with transition and economic advisers. Then, he will receive the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in front of television cameras.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief and meet with transition and economic advisers.
The Senate is not in session until January 19.
The House will meet at 11 a.m. for a brief pro forma session. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer will request Unanimous Consent to consider a resolution calling on Vice President Pence to remove President Trump from office by invoking the 25th Amendment, although a Republican lawmaker is likely to object.
- House Democrats will meet at 2 p.m. over Zoom to plan their next steps on impeachment.
- House Republicans will hold a conference call at 4:30 p.m., their first group session since the riot at the Capitol last week. There will be “lots of airing of emotions,” one lawmaker told The Hill.
The Supreme Court will release orders from its Friday conference at 9:30 a.m. and then hear virtual oral arguments in Pham v. Chavez at 10 a.m.
- What rights do non-citizens have when they’re being deported? In this morning’s case, which SCOTUSblog describes as a “statutory puzzle,” the Supreme Court will decide the fate of a specific group: soon-to-be-deported migrants who claim that they can’t safely return to their native countries. Their claims often take months or years to process in U.S. courts, leaving them in detention for indefinite periods of time. Today’s question is whether they can be temporarily released during this process. The U.S. government argues that they can only be released after 90 days of detention, while the non-citizens argue that they can be released whenever an immigration judge chooses.
— Supreme Court case summary contributed by Anna Salvatore
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