Impeachment 2: Impeach Harder is coming along at a near record pace as House Democrats have introduced a single impeachment resolution over Donald Trump's incitement to violence last week directly resulting in the US Capitol terrorist attack, and Pelosi says they have the votes to proceed.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on the cusp of majority support in the House to impeach President Donald Trump, part of a two-front effort to punish and remove him for inciting the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week.
Key members of the House Judiciary Committee introduced a single article of impeachment Monday that has already gathered at least 218 cosponsors, according to a congressional aide involved in the process, meeting the majority needed in the House. Pelosi signaled Sunday night that the House would vote on that article if Trump refuses to resign and Vice President Mike Pence won’t initiate other procedures to remove him.
“Because the timeframe is so short and the need is so immediate and an emergency, we will also proceed on a parallel path in terms of impeachment,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters Monday. “Whether impeachment can pass the United States Senate is not the issue.”
“There may well be a vote on impeachment on Wednesday," he said.
At a brief House session on Monday morning, the House formally accepted the resignation of Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, who was partly responsible for security arrangements on Jan. 6. And moments later, Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) blocked unanimous consideration of a resolution from Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) that would have urged Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment process to remove Trump from power. The House intends to vote on the resolution Tuesday.
Although some Democrats have voiced worry that impeaching Trump with just days left in his term could hamstring President-elect Joe Biden’s early weeks in office, momentum has only grown as new and disturbing footage of the violence wrought by the rioters has emerged. That footage included the beating of a Capitol Police officer, yanked out of the building by a crowd of Trump supporters. The officer in the video has not been identified, but it surfaced after the news that at least one officer, Brain Sicknick, died of injuries sustained during the onslaught.
Every new indication that the rioters included a more sophisticated contingent of insurrectionists has inflamed the House anew, even as Republicans have continued to express wariness, if not outright opposition, to impeachment.
Given the Republican Party’s continued refusal to take responsibility for Trump, what can be done to bring a dangerous President to book? Some Democrats are concerned that starting the Senate trial as Biden takes office, which is the timetable that McConnell has put forward, could endanger the new Administration’s policy agenda and its hopes of getting its Cabinet nominees confirmed quickly. One option that Pelosi and her colleagues are exploring is delaying the impeachment trial in the Senate, perhaps for as long as two or three months. Under this scenario, which Representative James Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, laid out on Sunday, the House would pass the article, or articles, of impeachment this week but then hold off on passing them along to the Senate. “Let’s give President-elect Biden the hundred days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” Clyburn, who is a close ally of Biden’s, said on Fox News on Sunday. “And maybe we will send the articles sometime after that.”
If the only goal of impeachment is to prevent Trump from running again in 2024, delaying a trial might be a defensible option. The danger is, though, that it might lessen the pressure on Senate Republicans to vote for a conviction. With many G.O.P. members already trying to wriggle away from their responsibilities in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s insurrection, how much less likely are they to answer the call in three months? Conceivably, a delayed trial could give Trump yet another burst of publicity at a moment when most Americans are hoping to be rid of him—and then end with him claiming to have been vindicated.
One other option that is worth considering, Eisen told me, is invoking Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which says that anybody who has called for an insurrection against the federal government can’t run for office. Trump’s actions certainly seem to satisfy the statute, and Section 5 of the Amendment gives Congress the power to enforce it. “That’s certainly something that should be in the mix,” Eisen said. “But we should lead with impeachment.”
What’s required is a way to punish Trump for his sedition, make sure he can’t run for President again, and deprive him of the oxygen he so craves. The permanent ban by Twitter goes a long way toward meeting the third goal, but the first two are arguably even more important.
In other democracies, a leader who tried to overthrow an election result and incited a violent insurrection might well be cooling his heels in prison by now. In this country, the job of policing the President falls largely on the legislative branch. For four years, it has failed dismally to carry out this task. Even after the unprecedented events of last week, it’s far from clear that Congress will prove up to the task now. But this time, surely, and for the sake of American democracy, Trump must be held accountable.