House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders formally accused Donald Trump of incitement to insurrection Monday morning as part of an attempt to shame him out of office at breakneck speed.
Democrats introduced their impeachment resolution, first floated Friday, accusing Trump of ‘incitement of insurrection’ as the House met and later announced there would be a vote on it on Wednesday starting at 9a.m.
Top Democrats say it has enough support to pass the House – and that they expect Republicans to sign on to it.
And they set up fast-moving floor votes that that will force House Republicans to cast votes this week both on President Trump‘s fitness for office and on whether to remove him during his final days in power.
On Monday morning, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) sought to call up a resolution that would instruct Pence to convene cabinet members to declare Trump ‘incapable of executing the duties of his office’ under the terms of the 25th Amendment.
But he failed to get ‘unanimous consent’ when a House Republican objected. Pelosi says she will respond by bringing the 25th amendment resolution to the floor Tuesday – meaning Republicans will have to vote on the record on whether they believe Trump is fit for office.
That vote will be later on Tuesday with members ordered back to D.C. in a message from Democratic leadership which said the impeachment vote would take place Wednesday.
The moves came on a day when:
- Melania Trump issued a statement condemning the violence of last week but naming the dead rioters before the dead police then lashing out at ‘salacious gossip’ about her, an apparent reference to the revelation she continued with a photoshoot while the Capitol was desecrated;
- Trump tried to give an impression of business as usual, giving a Medal of Freedom at the White House to Jim Jordan, the ‘freedom caucus’ Republican House member who was all-in on overturning the election results;
- The FBI warned of armed protests being planned in all 50 states between now and Joe Biden taking office;
- More MAGA rioters were swept up by police around the country, but questions mounted over the police failures which let them storm the Capitol;
- 10,000 National Guard were ordered to be in Washington D.C. for Biden’s inauguration in a sign of how concerned the FBI and other agencies are about more MAGA rioting;
- Biden unveiled more of his plans for his inauguration, including laying a wreath at Arlington with former presidents Bush, Clinton and Obama in a very public demonstration that Trump is an outcast;
- The Supreme Court declined to fast-track Trump’s one-time attorney Sidney Powell’s ‘Kraken’ compendium of discredited voter fraud claims, while the New York Bar Association started investigating Rudy Giuliani over his ‘trial by combat’ speech to the MAGA rally before they desecrated the Capitol;
- Josh Hawley was told to hand back a $5,000 donation by Hallmark as big business, led by the biggest banks, JP Morgan and Bank of America, turned off the cash spigot to him and the so-called GOP ‘treason caucus.’
In Congress, Democrats escalated their rhetorical attack on Trump in their article of impeachment.
The latest text of the impeachment resolution cites the post-Civil War 14th amendment, noting it ‘prohibits any person who has ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion against’ the United States from ‘hold[ing] any office . . . under the United States’.
The text can be amended between now and Wednesday, but is close to previous drafts released Friday.
Its formal introduction in the House came in a brief session where Hoyer stood to introduce the demand for Pence to use the 25th Amendment, asking that Republicans assent to it without objection.
IMPEACHMENT: WHAT HAPPENS NOW
Tuesday: House votes on telling Pence to use the 25th Amendment in the next 24 hours; majority support certain
Wednesday: If Pence has not acted, House will vote on single article of impeachment
Tuesday January 19: First date Senate can take up impeachment, according to Mitch McConnell
Wednesday January 20, noon: Joe Biden inaugurated
Wednesday January 20, 1pm: Earliest possible start to impeachment trial, according to McConnell
But Democrats could hold back the Article for as much as 100 days to let Joe Biden have his cabinet picks confirmed.
And Chuck Schumer, who becomes Senate leader on January 20, has offered no indication of how he plans to proceed.
In swift parliamentary action, West Virginia Republican Rep. Alex Mooney immediately objected to the request to bring up the resolution.
He posted a statement on Twitter explaining his reasons, which were entirely procedural and expressed opposition to bringing it up ‘without any debate on the floor,’ although he also said it could ‘imperil our Republic.’
Mooney was one of 139 House Republicans who voted to overturn the election even after the MAGA riot.
Pelosi’s plan is to first try to bring up the resolution formally requesting Vice President Mike Pence invoke the 25th Amendment through the request, then follow up by bringing it before the full House.
The amendment provides either for the cabinet to meet to assess the president, or a special committee to be established by Congress – although Congress has never created such a body.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) began developing 25th amendment legislation months ago, and has examined the issue for years.
The move puts pressure on Pence – who Trump publicly sought to strong-arm at the rally that proceeded the Capitol riots.
Crowd members at the Capitol also screamed out calls to ‘hang’ Pence. Trump reportedly has not spoken with Pence since the stunning events of last week.
The resolution would not carry the force of law, but it would be the first test for House Republicans, many of whom served with Pence, since a vote hours after the riot split the conference on whether to count votes where Trump has claimed fraud.
A majority of Republicans voted not to count the ballots just hours after many of them had been hiding in undisclosed locations while the mob rampaged the Capitol building.
Democrats believe they will get some House Republicans to sign up to impeachment, such as Adam Kinzinger, who has been outspoken in his attacks on Trump.
Their biggest prize would be Republican number three Liz Cheney, who slammed members of the GOP caucus who voted against certifying the elections.
House move: Democrats brought a ‘unanimous consent’ measure to the floor calling for Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment but Republicans objected, meaning Democrats will force a vote on it Tuesday which would be likely to be followed by an impeachment vote Wednesday
Blocked: Steny Hoyer, the House Democratic leader, brought the unanimous consent measure but Republican Alex Mooney registered an objection, forcing a vote on it Tuesday
READ DEMOCRATS’ ARTICLE OF IMPEACHMENT
Their two-pronged attack on Republicans and Trump also separates question of Trump’s fitness from some practical considerations about impeachment, since the move would take effect immediately.
There is however no doubt Democrats will persist with impeachment even if Trump resigns or is removed – neither of which appear likely to happen as of Monday.
They believe the constitution allows for impeachment to continue after Trump has left office. They also believe they could secure more Republican senators’ support for conviction and disqualification for office after Trump leaves office than before.
The backdrop for Monday’s move was a House chamber still scarred by the violence of last week. The violent clash that resulted in broken windows and the shooting of a Trump supporter took place just feet away, outside the Speaker’s lobby.
The weekend brought fresh video footage of vicious attacks on Capitol Police officers, new clips that revealed just how close the Senate chamber was to being overrun while in session, arrests of more alleged perpetrators across the country, and the tragic suicide of a Capitol Police officer who was there for the siege.
Even if the House votes Wednesday to impeach, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote colleagues a trial would not likely begin until January 19th – missing the opportunity to remove Trump from office, and also complicating the start of President-elect Joe Biden’s tenure.
Unlike through impeachment, if Pence and a majority of the cabinet officers were to vote that Trump was unfit for office, Pence would immediately become acting president for a period of days that would run out Trump’s term.
The House Rules Committee is expected to meet Monday on setting the terms of debate for the impeachment vote that would likely come Wednesday.
The impeachment vote itself would also split Republicans. More than 200 Democrats have already gotten behind the effort.
Since Wednesday’s riots, a few prominent Republicans have called for Trump to resign or be subject to impeachment. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said Sunday that Trump ‘committed impeachable offenses.’
Pelosi, having conferenced with fellow Democrats by phone, and whose office was invaded by Trump supporters who damaged her office and stole property, is demanding swift action.
‘We will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both,’ she wrote Sunday. ‘The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.’
The impeachment vote will once again put GOP leaders on record as well. Both Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise voted not to seat electors certified in states that Joe Biden won.
The House votes will test Republican support for Donald Trump following a Capitol riot carried out by his supporters that resulted in five deaths
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) backed Trump’s claims to overturn election results after the president’s supporters overran the Capitol
But McCarthy was reportedly on a call ‘screaming’ at Trump trying to get him to publicly demand his supporters leave the Capitol at a time when lawmakers and Pence were in physical danger.
Retired Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake told CNN Monday those in party leadership positions in Congress ‘who went along with the president’s falsehoods … ought to face consequences in terms of their own reelection and obviously immediately in terms of leadership positions that they might hold.
‘So i hope that the party has a reckoning here,’ he said.
The effect of the procedural moves, even if they don’t result in Trump’s removal from office, will be to put House Republicans on record.
It could also flush out any House Republicans who have decided to break with Trump after opposing the first Democratic impeachment effort.
Meanwhile, some pro-Trump House Republicans are already are already telegraphing they would seek to use impeachment against Joe Biden.
‘We never think about the consequences. It’s going to be like: Game on. Let’s impeach [Biden] 12 times in a week,’ one Democrat opposed to impeachment told Politico.
The desire for action against Trump escalated over the weekend.
On Sunday night. Nancy Pelosi fought to contain her emotions as she told 60 Minutes how her staff cowered under desks in the dark for two hours, as a frenzied mob of Trump supporters smashed through her office.
‘I think there was, universally accepted, that what happened…’ she said, pausing to compose herself.
‘Was a terrible, terrible violation of what – of the Capitol, of the first branch of government, the legislative branch, by the president of the United States.’
Pelosi’s door was smashed down, and rioters stormed her private office.
I SUFFERED TOO: MELANIA BREAKS SILENCE TO CONDEMN RIOT
Melania Trump on Monday broke her silence on last week’s mob attack on the Capitol, saying she ‘absolutely condemns the violence’ incited by her husband and calling for ‘healing’ as the couple prepares to leave office.
Five days after the attacked that resulted in five deaths, the first lady published a statement that acknowledged the deaths of her husband’s supporters before the deaths of two Capitol Police officers – and lashed out extensively at ‘gossip’ about her.
‘My heart goes out to: Air Force Veteran, Ashli Babbit, Benjamin Philips, Kevin Greeson, Rosanne Boyland, and Capitol Police Officers, Brian Sicknick and Howard Liebengood. I pray for their families comfort and strength during this difficult time,’ she wrote.
But in her 600-word essay published by the White House, she quickly turned the situation to herself, slamming the ‘salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me’ – a reference to reports she was conducting a photo shoot in the White House during the MAGA mob scene.
‘I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me – from people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda. This time is solely about healing our country and its citizens. It should not be used for personal gain,’ she wrote in the message entitled Our Path Forward.
The essay is filled with spelling errors – Babbit’s name was spelled wrong – it was Babbitt – and grammatical mistakes.
It also cast no blame for Wednesday’s riot on her husband, who, at a rally earlier that day had encouraged his supporters to march on Capitol Hill.
Melania Trump broke her silence on last week’s mob attack on the Capitol, saying she ‘absolutely condemns the violence’ incited by her husband
The first lady issued a 600-word statement called Our Path Forward which was published on the White House website early on Monday
Meghan McCain, the daughter of the late senator John McCain and a frequent critic of the president, blasted Melania Trump for her statement.
‘Five people died in a domestic terror attack on our own republic last week incited by her husband but Melania Trump is the victim in this?! Every morning I think I can’t get more disgusted….,’ Meghan McCain tweeted.
While Melania has largely stayed quiet during Donald Trump’s attempts to illegally reverse the election results, she has echoed the president’s misleading language of ‘counting legal votes’ and has not publicly acknowledged Joe Biden’s victory.
But she wrote in her latest message that ‘it has been the honor of my lifetime to serve as your first lady’, a tacit acknowledgement that her term is nearly over.
Biden takes the oath of office on January 20th.
It’s unclear what’s in store for Melania Trump after life in the White House. She has been reportedly looking at schools for son Barron in Florida but has made no indication she plans to keep up her ‘Be Best’ campaign or her work with the military once her husband leaves office.
The first lady has been spending her final days in the White House behind closed doors. She and her husband have rarely been seen since their return from Florida on December 31st, where they were spending the holidays at Mar-a-Lago.
Melania’s message was published early on Monday morning, three days after the president was permanently banned from Twitter – with Trump not showing his face since promising an orderly transition in a video message on Thursday.
And while Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump had appeared at a campaign rally Wednesday morning where the president whipped his supporters into a frenzy shortly before they besieged the Capitol, the first lady stayed out of sight during the day of chaos.
Two of her staff quit in protest of the president’s handling of the riots: her chief of Staff Stephanie Grisham and social secretary Anna Cristina ‘Rickie’ Niceta.
As a White House source told The Mail on Sunday that during Wednesday’s siege of the Capitol, the first lady was in the East Wing of the White House overseeing a photoshoot for a new coffee table book about presidential artifacts.
‘The heart of US government was under siege, our very democracy on the line, but Mrs Trump was calmly arranging porcelain figurines for the photographer,’ the source said, saying even the most loyal remaining Trump staffers were left ‘dumbfounded’ by her actions.
Aides even asked Melania to intercede on Wednesday, to force her husband to publicly decry the insurgency, but she refused.
‘She said nothing. She remained silent and carried on arranging a vase for the shoot. She checked out of this presidency and her marriage a long time ago.’
Additionally, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who worked in the East Wing in the early days of the administration and then wrote a memoir of her time there that painted Melania in an unflattering light, wrote in The Daily Beast over the weekend that she is ‘ashamed’ to have ever worked for the first lady.
‘I can’t believe how blind I was to the depth of her deception and lack of common decency,’ Wolkoff wrote.
Without mentioning those claims directly in her statement on Monday, Melania condemned what she said were ‘false misleading accusations on me’ from ‘people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda’.
The first lady said she was praying for the families of the four protesters and two Capitol Police officers who died in the hours and days after the attack.
She added that ‘our nation must heal in a civil manner’, after President Trump initially praised the mob as ‘very special’ but later condemned the violence.
‘Make no mistake about it, I absolutely condemn the violence that has occurred on our Nation’s Capitol. Violence is never acceptable,’ she wrote.
Police casualties: Officer Brian Sicknick was murdered, allegedly by being hit with a fire extinguisher. Officer Howard Liebengood took his own life on Saturday morning
Dead rioters: Ashli Babbitt was shot by a Capitol Hill officer as she tried to smash her way into the Speaker’s Lobby. Rosanne Boyland died in the Rotunda; she is thought to have been trampled to death by the mob
Dead rioters: Benjamin Philips organized a bus trip of MAGA fanatics from Bloomsburg, PA, and died, possibly of a stroke, having posted that it was’the first day of the rest of our lives.’ Kevin Greeson had a heart attack. In recent days he posted on Parler: ‘Let’s take this f***ing country back,’ posed with two AR-15-style rifles and a handgun and spewed abuse about Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi closed her eyes and took a minute to compose herself, speaking about the riot
Nancy Pelosi, in a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday, showed Stahl the destruction in her office
Pelosi’s employees cowered under this table in the dark for two hours as the mob roamed
Rioters draped in Trump flags are pictured rampaging through Pelosi’s office
One man is seen photographing a picture from Pelosi’s office, having broken into the room
Trump supporters in their MAGA caps played with Pelosi’s office furniture
The mob of Trump supporters chanted Pelosi’s name as they rampaged through the building
‘The staff went under the table, barricaded the door, turned out the lights, and were silent in the dark,’ Pelosi said, showing 60 Minutes interviewer Lesley Stahl the damage.
‘Under the table for two and a half hours.’
During this time in hiding, they listened to the invaders banging on that door.
Pelosi’s team cowered, praying the mob did not find them.
‘You see what they did to the mirror there? The glass was all over the place,’ said Pelosi.
‘They took a computer and all that stuff.
‘And then the desk that they actually were at was right there that they defamed in that way, feet on the desk and all that.’
One of the rioters, Richard Barnett, 60, was pictured putting his feet up on her desk.
The MAGA rioter who put his feet up on Nancy Pelosi ‘s desk was arrested at home in Arkansas
Barnett, who proudly referred to himself as a white nationalist on social media, was federally charged with unlawful entry. He was taken into custody at his home in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Richard Barnett, 60, has been charged with unlawful entry
Another, Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr, allegedly wrote in a text to a friend that he was thinking of ‘putting a bullet in [Pelosi’s] noggin on Live TV’.
Another text allegedly reads: ‘I’m gonna run that c**t Pelosi over while she chews on her gums.’
According to officials, a third text from Meredith, who is a married, father-of-two, says he has ‘a sh*t ton of … armor piercing ammo’.
Meredith is one of 13 people who have been charged with federal crimes.
Pelosi told Stahl: ‘The evidence is now that it was a well-planned, organized group with leadership and guidance and direction. And the direction was to go get people.
‘They were vocally saying, ‘Where’s the speaker? We know she has staff. They’re here someplace. We’re going to find them.”
Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr (pictured) allegedly texted friends that he wanted to shoot or run over Nancy Pelosi
While the mayhem was unfurling, Pelosi and other Congressmen had been taken to a safe location.
She was unaware until later what had happened in her office.
‘When the protesters were making the assault on the Capitol, before they even got to these doors, the Capitol Police pulled me from the podium,’ she said.
‘And I was concerned because I said: ‘No, I want to be here.’
‘And they said: ‘Well, no, you have to leave.’
‘I said: ‘No, I’m not leaving.’
‘They said: ‘No, you must leave.”
Pelosi said that she was disgusted that some Congressmen still voted to overthrow the election results, when the session resumed.
‘After the violence. Shame on them,’ she said.
‘And shame on two-thirds of the Republican caucus in the House supporting… so these people are enablers of the president’s behavior.’
Pelosi wrote to her Democrat colleagues on Sunday night to explain the next steps
On Sunday night Pelosi wrote to her Democrat colleagues to say that, unless Mike Pence invokes the powers of the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, they will proceed with impeachment.
Trump could become the only president to be impeached twice.
‘In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,’ she said, and added: ‘The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.’
She, and other Democrats, further fear the president could pardon those involved in the storming of the Capitol in his final days.
With impeachment planning intensifying, two Republican senators said they want Trump to resign immediately as efforts mounted to prevent Trump from ever again holding elective office in the wake of deadly riots at the Capitol.
House Democrats were expected to introduce articles of impeachment on Monday. The strategy would be to condemn the president’s actions swiftly but delay an impeachment trial in the Senate for 100 days. That would allow President-elect Joe Biden to focus on other priorities as soon as he is inaugurated on January 20.
Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat and a top Biden ally, laid out the ideas on Sunday as the country came to grips with the siege at the Capitol by Trump loyalists trying to overturn the election results.
‘Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,’ Clyburn said.
Pressure was mounting for Trump to leave office even before his term ended amid alarming concerns of more unrest ahead of the inauguration.
The mob overran the Capitol Police shortly after Trump urged them to ‘fight’ on his behalf
Police try to hold back protesters pushing into a doorway at the Capitol on Wednesday
The mostly maskless crowd flooded the halls of the Capitol with little resistance from Capitol Police
Capitol police officers point their guns at a door that was vandalized in the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress
Trump addressed his thousands of his supporters near the White House Wednesday at his ‘Save America’ rally and declared war on his own party, calling Republicans who opposed him ‘weak’
A man in a QAnon hoodie is seen inside the Capitol on Wednesday
Lawmakers and law enforcement are pursuing all available avenues to find and prosecute those involved in the Capitol riot – using picture and video evidence to do so
A protester struggles with a riot police officer outside the Capitol building after the 6pm curfew went into effect
The president is accused of whipping up the mob that stormed the Capitol, sent lawmakers into hiding and left five dead.
Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania on Sunday joined his fellow Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in calling for Trump to ‘resign and go away as soon as possible.’
‘I think the president has disqualified himself from ever, certainly, serving in office again,’ Toomey said. ‘I don’t think he is electable in any way.’
Murkowski, who has long voiced her exasperation with Trump’s conduct in office, told the Anchorage Daily News on Friday that Trump simply ‘needs to get out.’
A third Republican, Sen. Roy Blunt, of Missouri, did not go that far, but on Sunday he warned Trump to be ‘very careful’ in his final days in office.
Corporate America began to tie its reaction to the Capitol riots by tying them to campaign contributions.
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s CEO and President Kim Keck said it will not contribute to those lawmakers — all Republicans — who supported challenges to Biden’s Electoral College win.
The group ‘will suspend contributions to those lawmakers who voted to undermine our democracy,’ Kim said.
Citigroup did not single out lawmakers aligned with Trump’s effort to overturn the election, but said it would be pausing all federal political donations for the first three months of the year. Citi’s head of global government affairs, Candi Wolff, said in a Friday memo to employees, ‘We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law.’
Lisa Murkowski, senator for Alaska, has said she is considering quitting the Republicans
Murkowski said that Trump should resign, saying he had done enough damage
Trump supporters, egged on by the president himself, stormed the Capitol on Wednesday
House leaders, furious after the insurrection, appear determined to act against Trump despite the short timeline.
Mike Pence ‘has not ruled out the 25th Amendment’
Mike Pence and Donald Trump have not spoken since Wednesday’s uprising, CNN reported, during which pro-Trump rioters charged through the Senate looking for Pence and threatening to ‘hang’ him.
Trump was angered by Pence telling him he was not constitutionally able to overturn the election, and lashed out at his vice president on Wednesday, telling supporters: ‘Mike Pence has to come through for us. If he doesn’t that will be a sad day for our country.’ He later tweeted: ‘Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.’
Pence has finally ‘gotten a glimpse of POTUS’s vindictiveness,’ one source told CNN.
It is the first time the normally-loyal Pence has publicly broken with the president.
CNN said that Pence has not ruled out the 25th Amendment.
Invoking the 25th Amendment would require Pence and a majority of the Cabinet to vote to remove Trump from office due to his inability to ‘discharge the powers and duties of his office’ – an unprecedented step.
On Thursday, sources close to the VP said it was ‘highly unlikely’ Pence would attempt to invoke the 25th Amendment. He has not ruled it out, however.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, has said an impeachment trial could not begin under the current calendar before Inauguration Day.
While many have criticized Trump, Republicans have said that impeachment would be divisive in a time of unity.
Senator Marco Rubio said that instead of coming together, Democrats want to ‘talk about ridiculous things like ‘Let’s impeach a president’ with just days left in office.
Still, some Republicans might be supportive.
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said he would take a look at any articles that the House sent over. Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a frequent Trump critic, said he would ‘vote the right way’ if the matter were put in front of him.
The Democratic effort to stamp Trump’s presidential record — for the second time — with the indelible mark of impeachment had advanced rapidly since the riot.
Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I, a leader of the House effort to draft impeachment articles accusing Trump of inciting insurrection, said Sunday that his group had 200-plus co-sponsors.
The articles, if passed by the House, could then be transmitted to the Senate for a trial, with senators acting as jurors to acquit or convict Trump.
If convicted, Trump would be removed from office and succeeded by the vice president.
It would be the first time a U.S. president had been impeached twice.
Potentially complicating Pelosi’s decision about impeachment was what it meant for Biden and the beginning of his presidency. While reiterating that he had long viewed Trump as unfit for office, Biden on Friday sidestepped a question about impeachment, saying what Congress did ‘is for them to decide.’
While some Democrats are pushing for the impeachment route, the House Speaker told 60 Minutes that she prefers invoking the 25th Amendment because it gets Trump out of office immediately.
‘There is a possibility that after all of this, there’s no punishment, no consequence, and he could run again for president,’ Stahl said to Pelosi in a clip released ahead of airing the full interview.
‘And that’s one of the motivations that people have for advocating for impeachment,’ Pelosi explained.
She is, however, concerned that if Trump is not booted from the White House right now, he will use his last 10 days in office to pardon those part of the mob who descended on the Capitol Wednesday – or even himself and other allies.
‘I like the 25th Amendment because it gets rid of him – he’s out of office,’ Pelosi said. ‘But there is strong support in the Congress for impeaching the president a second time.’
‘What if he pardons himself?’ Stahl asked.
‘What if pardons these people who are terrorists on the Capitol?’ Pelosi shot back.
Congress is moving to prosecute or punish any and all they can find who were involved in the riots at the Capitol – and have already found some who were pictured prominently.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday in an interview with ABC’s ‘This Week’ that half of the members of the House were at risk of dying during the riots.
‘Perhaps my colleagues were not fully present for the events on Wednesday, but we came close to half of the House nearly dying on Wednesday,’ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday of the pro-Trump mob descending on the Capitol
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Sunday that Democrats will vote on impeachment this week, but said the party might wait until after Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office to move the articles to the Senate
WHAT DOES THE 25TH AMENDMENT SAY? CAN TRUMP’S CABINET REALLY TOPPLE HIM?
The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution deals with presidential authority in the event of death or removal from office, and was ratified in 1967, in the wake of John F Kennedy’s assassination.
What does the 25th Amendment say?
It is in four sections, all dealing with the president leaving office during his or her elected term.
The first section states that the vice president takes over the Oval Office if the president dies or resigns – or is removed – something which the original Constitution did not clearly state.
Presidents of course can be removed by impeachment, a feature of the constitution from the start. They can also be removed through the 25th Amendment – of which more below.
Section II states that if the vice president dies, or resigns – or is fired – both the House and Senate have to confirm a new vice president. Until 1967, presidents could change vice presidents mid-term on their own if they got the vice president to agree to resign – not something that actually happened, but which was possible in principle.
Section III makes clear that a president can temporarily delegate his powers to the vice president, and later reclaim them when he – or she – is capable of serving. This is most often invoked if a president is under the influence of surgical anesthetic for a short period of time.
Section IV is the amendment’s most controversial part: it describes how the president can be removed from office if he is incapacitated and does not leave on his own.
The vice president and ‘a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide’ must write to both the president pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, saying that ‘the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’
The term principal officers of the executive departments would normally mean the cabinet secretaries.
So at least eight of the president’s 15 most senior Cabinet members together with the vice president must agree that a president should be removed before any plan can move forward.
Notifying the House Speaker and the Senate president pro tempore is the act that immediately elevates the vice president to an ‘acting president’ role.
The deposed president can contest the claim, giving the leaders of the bloodless coup four days to re-assert their claims to the House and Senate.
Congress then has two days to convene – unless it is already in session – and another 21 days to vote on whether the president is incapable of serving. A two-thirds majority in both houses is required to make that determination.
As soon as there is a vote with a two-thirds majority, the president loses his powers and is removed, and the vice president stops acting and is sworn in as president.
But if 21 days of debate and votes ends without a two-thirds majority, the president gets back his powers.
What could happen to trigger the 25th Amendment?
Vice President Mike Pence and eight of the 15 ‘principal’ Cabinet members would have to agree to notify Congress that President Donald Trump was incapable of running the country.
That group is made up of the Secretary of State, Treasury Secretary, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, Interior Secretary, Agriculture Secretary, Commerce Secretary, Labor Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretary, Transportation Secretary, Energy Secretary , Education Secretary, Veterans Affairs Secretary and Homeland Security Secretary.
Their formal notification would go to the House Speaker and, in the senate, to the ‘president pro tempore’, the Senate’s most senior member. As soon as the letter is sent, Pence would become ‘acting president.’
Alternatively, Congress could set up its own mechanism to decide if he is fit for office – maybe a commission, or a joint committee. Pence would still have to agree with its conclusion and then write formally to the Speaker and president pro tempore.
Or another possibility is that the pool of ‘principal officers’ is considered to be bigger than the 15 and a majority of that group call Trump incapable.
What if Trump does not agree?
If Trump claims he is capable of holding office, he would write to the House Speaker and the president pro tempore of the Senate within four days, setting up three weeks of intense debate in both houses of Congress.
Trump would be removed from office if both two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate agreed with Pence and his cabal.
If either of both chambers fell short of that mark, Trump would retain his powers and likely embark on a wholesale housecleaning, firing Pence and replacing disloyal Cabinet members.
Are there any loopholes?
The 25th Amendment allows Congress to appoint its own panel to evaluate the president instead of relying on the Cabinet – the men and women who work most closely with Trump – to decide on a course of action.
It specifies that some ‘other body as Congress may by law provide’ could play that role, but Pence would still need to agree with any finding that the president is incapable of discharging his duties.
That commission could hypothetically include anyone from presidential historians to psychiatrists, entrusted to assess the president’s fitness for office.
Another loophole is that it does not spell out that the Cabinet is needed to agree, but says that the ‘principal officers’ of the departments are needed. That term is undefined in the constitution. In some departments legislation appears to name not just the secretary but deputies and even undersecretaries as ‘principal officers’, so many more people could be called in to the assessment of Trump’s fitness.
But Trump’s cabinet has a swathe of ‘acting’ cabinet officer – and it is unclear if they could therefore take part in removing him.
Could Trump fire Pence if he rebelled?
No. The vice president can resign or be impeached and removed – but he does not serve at the pleasure of the president.
Is there any precedent for this?
No. Only Section III, the voluntary surrender of presidential powers, has ever been used – and only very briefly.
In December 1978, President Jimmy Carter thought about invoking Section III when he was contemplating a surgical procedure to remove hemorrhoids.
Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both voluntarily relinquished their powers while undergoing procedures under anesthetic.
Section IV has also never been invoked, although there have been claims that Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff Donald Regan told his successor, Howard Baker, in 1987 that he should be prepared to invoke it because Reagan was inattentive and inept.
The PBS documentary ‘American Experience’ recounts how Baker and his team watched Reagan closely for signs of incapacity during their first meeting and decided he was in perfect command of himself.
‘If another head of state came in and ordered an attack on the United States Congress, would we say that that should not be prosecuted? Would we say that there should be absolutely no response to that?’ the New York congresswoman told ABC host George Stephanopoulos.
‘No,’ Ocasio-Cortez asserted. ‘It is an act of insurrection. It’s an act of hostility. And we must have accountability, because, without it, it will happen again.
‘Perhaps my colleagues were not fully present for the events on Wednesday, but we came close to half of the House nearly dying on Wednesday,’ she said.
Hakeem Jeffries, a fellow New York Representative, agreed with AOC’s points in an interview with NBC on Sunday, claiming: ‘Donald Trump represents a clear and present danger to the health and safety of the American people, as well as our democracy’
The representative, as well as the handful of members of her progressive ‘squad’, are fully on board with plans to again impeach President Trump.
Clyburn said Sunday that articles have already been drawn and he is expecting a vote in the lower chamber in the coming day.
‘I think that will come – probably Tuesday, and maybe Wednesday, but it will happen this week,’ the No. 3 House Democrat told ‘Fox News Sunday’ when asked about the House taking action to impeach Trump. ‘The rest of the articles have been drawn up.’
‘If we are the people’s House, let’s do the people’s work and vote to impeach this president,’ Clyburn continued in his interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace. ‘And then we’ll decide later — or the Senate will decide later — what to do with that impeachment.’
Ocasio-Cortez said ‘every minute’ Trump is still in office, there is a looming threat.
‘I absolutely believe that impeachment should be scheduled for several reasons,’ she said on Sunday.
‘Our main priority is to ensure the removal of Donald Trump as president of the United States,’ AOC added. ‘Every minute and every hour that he is in office represents a clear and present danger, not just to the United States Congress, but, frankly, to the country.’
While Democrats pursue impeachment, many lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are calling for Trump to step down on his own volition to prevent Congress from having to intervene.
Lawmakers were forced to evacuate the House and Senate chambers and shelter in offices or other locations on Wednesday after thousands of Donald Trump’s supporters breached the Capitol and rioted through the halls
There are also talks of banning Trump from running for president again in the future – as speculation mounts he will pursue another run for the White House in 2024.
‘In addition to removal, we’re also talking about complete barring of the president – or, rather, of Donald Trump from running for office ever again,’ Ocasio-Cortez told ABC.
‘And, in addition to that, the potential ability to prevent pardoning himself from those charges that he was impeached for.’
Jeffries also wants immediate action against Trump, expressing concern that the president still has ‘access to the nuclear codes.’
‘The goal at the present moment is to address the existential threat that Donald Trump presents at this time. Every second, every minute, every hour that Donald Trump remains in office presents a danger to the American people,’ the Democrat representative said on Sunday during an interview on ‘Meet the Press’.
‘You know, Donald Trump may be in the Twitter penalty box, but he still has access to the nuclear codes,’ Jeffries said, referencing Trump’s indefinite ban from Twitter.
‘That’s a frightening prospect.’
He added: ‘Donald Trump is completely and totally out of control, and even his longtime enablers have now come to that conclusion.’
Clyburn, however, said Sunday that House Democrats are weighing if they should hold off on sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate until after Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office.
This way, Democrats would allow the new president to install key members of his team and would have a new 50-50 split Senate to work with.