The Capitol incident has shaken America. Poised to impeach, the House sped ahead with plans to oust President Donald Trump from office, warning he is a threat to democracy and pushing the vice president and Cabinet to act even more quickly in an extraordinary effort to remove Trump in the final days of his presidency.
Trump faces a single charge of “incitement of insurrection” after the deadly Capitol riot in an impeachment resolution that the House will begin debating Wednesday.
At the same time, the FBI warned ominously on Monday of potentially armed protests in Washington and many states by Trump loyalists ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. In a dark foreshadowing, the Washington Monument was closed to the public amid the threats of disruption. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf abruptly resigned.
It all added up to stunning final moments for Trump’s presidency as Democrats and a growing number of Republicans declare he is unfit for office and could do more damage after inciting a mob that violently ransacked the US Capitol last Wednesday.
The four-page impeachment bill reads, “President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government. He will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is summoning lawmakers; back to Washington for votes, and Democrats aren’t the only ones who say Trump needs to go. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to “go away as soon as possible”.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo, encouraged House GOP colleagues; late Monday to “vote your conscience,” according to a person granted anonymity to discuss the private calls. She has spoken critically of Trump’s actions but has not said publicly how she will vote.
Pending impeachment, Democrats called on Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke their constitutional authority under the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office before Inauguration Day.
Their Democrats’ House resolution was blocked by Republicans. However, the full House is to hold a roll call vote on it on Tuesday, and it is expected to pass. After that, Pelosi said, Pence, will have 24 hours to respond. Next would be the impeachment proceedings.
Pence have given no indication he is ready to proceed on a course involving the 25th Amendment. He and Trump met late Monday for the first time since the Capitol attack, a senior administration official said.
Trump and Pence had a “good conversation” in the Oval Office; discussing the week ahead, and they pledged to continue working; for the remainder of their terms, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting. No member of the Cabinet has publicly called for Trump to be removed from office through the 25th Amendment.
As security tightened, Biden said on Monday he was “not afraid” of taking the oath of office outside as is traditionally done at the Capitol’s west steps, one of the areas where people stormed the building.
As for the rioters, Biden said, “It is critically important that there’ll be a real serious focus on; holding those folks who engaged in sedition; and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage that they are held accountable.”
Biden’s said he’s had conversations with senators; ahead of a possible impeachment trial, which some have worried would cloud the opening days of his administration.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer was exploring ways to immediately convene the Senate for the trial as soon as the House acts, though Republican leader Mitch McConnell would need to agree. The president-elect suggested splitting the Senate’s time, perhaps “go a half day on getting my people nominated; and confirmed in the Senate, as well as moving on the package.”