House Democrats introduced a new article of impeachment against President Donald Trump in the wake of his incitement of the violent, deadly insurrection against the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Unlike in December 2019 — when Trump was officially impeached by the Dem-led House, but later acquitted by the GOP-led Senate — there is only a single article of impeachment this time around, and it’s for “Incitement of Insurrection.”
Citing the 14th Amendment’s provision that anyone engaged in insurrection against the United States be barred from holding future office, the article of impeachment says Trump engaged in “high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”
The article lays out the case, arguing Trump “repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people.” It specifically mentions Trump’s speech at the “Save America” rally on January 6 outside the White House, when Trump entreated his forces to march on the Capitol.
“[At the rally], he reiterated false claims that ‘we won this election, and we won it by a landslide,’” the article reads. “He also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.’”
After reviewing more of Trump’s conduct around the election — including his attempt to pressure the Georgia secretary of state into overturning election results — the article says Trump “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government.”
“Donald John Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law,” the article of impeachment concludes. “Donald John Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”
The article was authored by Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Jamie Raskin (D-MD). Cicilline wrote for the New York Times a piece published earlier on Monday that the motivation behind their move is to answer an attempted coup after Trump has failed to resign and Vice President Mike Pence has not invoked the 25th Amendment, as many Democrats demanded.
Trump is scheduled to leave office when President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20. The House, already controlled by Democrats, could rapidly move to officially impeach Trump. As House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) said over the weekend, a vote could come Tuesday or Thursday.
But impeachment only prompts a trial in the Senate and the timeline for that is less clear. As the Washington Post reported Friday, a memo from current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell laid out that the Senate is not currently scheduled to reconvene for a session that could handle impeachment business until January 19 — the day before the inauguration — unless all 100 senators consent to return earlier.
That means Trump’s impeachment could not be finalized until after Biden takes office, potentially even after the swearing-in of two new Democratic senators from Georgia who will shift the balance of power in the Senate.
Clyburn also said this weekend that House Dems may wait until Biden’s first 100 days in office are over to send the case to the Senate in order to make space for the incoming administration to tackle COVID-19 relief and get its nominees confirmed.
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