Democrats file motion to impeach Trump, to give Pence time to act
Democrats on Monday filed an article of impeachment against US President Donald Trump accusing him of “incitement of resurrection” for the storming of the Capitol. They also introduced a resolution calling upon Vice-President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump declaring him “unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of his office”.
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A vote on the non-binding resolution, which Democrats had hoped to get on Monday, will be taken on Tuesday because Republicans blocked “unanimous consent”, a parliamentary procedure to speed up approval, without requiring a vote. It will give Pence 24 hours to oust Trump invoking the 25th Amendment.
If the vice-president does not respond, Democrats plan to proceed to impeach the president in a vote possibly on Wednesday, making Trump the first president impeached twice.
The four-page article of impeachment, moved by Representatives Jamie Raskin, Ted Lieu and David Cicilline alleges Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanours by “wilfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States” for the events that took place on January 6.
The article says that shortly before congress convened a joint session to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory, Trump addressed supporters and “wilfully made false statements that encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — imminent lawless action at the Capitol”.
“Incited by President Trump, a mob unlawfully breached the Capitol, injured law enforcement personnel, menaced members of Congress and the vice-president, interfered with the joint sessions’ solemn constitutional duty to certify the election results and engaged in violent, deadly, destructive and seditious acts.”
The article also detailed Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results and his appeal to Georgia election officials to “find” the votes he needed to make up the deficit by which he lost to Biden.
“In all of this,” the motion said, “President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States, and its institutions of government. He threatened the integrity of democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coordinate branch of government. He, thereby, betrayed his trust as president, to the manifest injury of the of the United States.”
The article further said that by such conduct, he has demonstrated that “he will remain a threat to national security, democracy and the constitution if allowed to remain in office.”
In a Saturday letter to fellow Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said the resolution “calls on the vice-president to convene and mobilise the cabinet to activate the 25th Amendment to declare the president incapable of executing the duties of his office, after which the vice president would immediately exercise powers as acting president”.
“We are calling on the vice-president to respond within 24 hours,” she had added. “Next, we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the floor.”
Pence is said to be reluctant to the removal of the president through the use of either the 25th Amendment or impeachment, fearing that it could push Trump, known for his unpredictability, to act rashly. But he has retained the option of invoking the 25th if Trump “become more unstable”, according to reports citing sources close to him.
The proposed resolution said, among other things, Trump “tweeted to his supporters that ‘Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country’ after the Capitol had been overrun and the Vice President was in hiding”.”
President Trump’s isolation in the final 10 days of his presidency has been exacerbated by growing backlash from the private sector, which was his world before the presidency.
Marriott hotel chain has cut off donations to senators who tried to block the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election. Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and J P Morgan Chase are reviewing their political donations after the Capitol riots. Citi has said it will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law.
First Lady Melania Trump, meanwhile, joined in condemning the riots triggered by her husband, saying she was “disappointed and disheartened”. She went on to condole the deaths of the two police officers as also the four men and women who were part of the mob that attacked the Capitol, all in the same sentence.
US military, in the meantime, is reviewing the role played by a Psyops officer, Capt Emily Rainey, in the January 6 riot. She had led a group from North Carolina to the rally. She told the Associated Press she had participated in the rally as a private citizen and no one in her group broke the law.