Politics & Policy

House Dems Move to Impeach Trump for ‘Incitement of Insurrection’; Vote to Be Held Wednesday

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.,Calif.) speaks to reporters during a news conference in Washington, D.C., January 7, 2021. (Erin Scott

The House will meet Wednesday to consider impeaching President Trump for “incitement of insurrection” after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, leaving five people dead.

House Democrats introduced a single article of impeachment against President Trump on Monday with the “incitement of insurrection” charge, saying he had “gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government.”

The four-page impeachment resolution includes Trump’s false comments about his election defeat to President-elect Joe Biden, his push to have state officials in Georgia “find” him additional votes and his “Save America” rally that took place Wednesday at the White House just before the Capitol riots, during which he urged his supporters to “fight like hell.”

The bill authored by Representatives David Cicilline (D., R.I.), Ted Lieu (D., Calif.), Jamie Raskin (D., Md.), and Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.), said Trump threatened “the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power” and “betrayed” trust.

“He will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office,” they wrote.

In a letter to colleagues on Sunday, House speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would “act with urgency” to remove the president from office as he “represents an imminent threat to both” the Constitution and U.S. democracy.

“As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action,” she wrote. 

Pelosi on Sunday laid out the process for removing Trump from office ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

House Democrats on Monday asked for consideration of a bill calling on Vice President Mike Pence to convene the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office, but Representative Alex Mooney (R., W.V.) objected.

“The U.S. House must never adopt a resolution that demands the removal of a duly elected president, without any hearings, debate or recorded votes,” Mooney said in a statement explaining his objection.

On Sunday, Pelosi said if the measure did not receive unanimous consent, she would bring the bill to the floor for a vote on Tuesday.

In the event that Pence does not respond within 24 hours after the measure’s all but certain passing, Pelosi said the House will move forward with articles of impeachment, which could make Trump the first president in history to be impeached for a second time in his tenure.

Pelosi did not say when the impeachment vote might occur, though Democratic aides said they were hoping for mid-week, according to The Hill

As Democrats hold a slim majority in the House, impeachment could succeed without any Republican support. However, in order to remove Trump from office, 67 senators would need to vote to convict him.

Republicans will maintain their majority in the Senate until Georgia Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are sworn in later this month after the election results are certified.

Once received, the Senate is required to consider the articles of impeachment before acting on any other business. If the Senate is forced to immediately hold impeachment hearings, other important business, including hearings for President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks, will be delayed. 

To avoid this, House majority whip James Clyburn (D., S.C.) on Sunday suggested impeaching Trump now but waiting until after Biden’s first 100 days in office to send the articles to the Senate.

While a post-presidency impeachment and conviction would not remove Trump from office, it would bar him from holding office in the future, so long as a simple majority voted to bar him after conviction. The vote would be significant considering that Trump has signaled he intends to run for president again in 2024.

“We will take the vote that we should take in the House. And [Pelosi] will make the determination as to when is the best time to get that vote and get the managers appointed and move that legislation over to the Senate,” Clyburn said in an appearance on CNN.

“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” Clyburn added. “And maybe we will send the articles some time after that.”

More than 200 Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors to the single article of impeachment that charges the president with high crimes and misdemeanors for “willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.” At least 217 are needed to pass the article through the House.

However, while a number of Republican lawmakers have condemned what they perceive as Trump’s role in inciting Wednesday’s siege on the Capitol, it’s unclear how many in the GOP would support impeachment.

Representative Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) is the only House Republican to call for Trump to immediately leave office, though he has acknowledged that impeachment is “probably not the smartest move right now.”

House Republicans, as the minority, have no power to stop the Democrats from moving forward with impeachment.

Democrats have the ability to skip the normal impeachment process, which typically includes a vote to proceed with an inquiry, a committee probe of the president’s conduct, time for the president to defend himself, debate over the correct way to proceed and a Senate trial. Democrats can pass a rule creating a new procedure, followed by an article or articles of impeachment whenever they want, according to Byron York of the Washington Examiner. 

The first time the president was impeached, no Republicans supported the matter. Circumstances are different, however, this time around as the party has grown more fractured, split between Trump allies who have supported his unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud and a rigged election and those who have not.

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