Tuesday, January 19, 2021

House set to impeach Trump amid chaotic final days of his presidency

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Ready to impeach, the House has accelerated plans to remove President Donald Trump from office, warning he poses a threat to democracy and pushing the vice president and cabinet to act even faster in an extraordinary effort to impeach Trump in the last days of his tenure. presidency.

Trump faces only one charge – “incitement to insurgency” – after the deadly riot on Capitol Hill in aimpeachment resolutionthat the House will begin to debate on Wednesday.

At the same time, the FBIominously warned on Monday of possible armed protestsin Washington andmany statesby Trump loyalists ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan.20. In a grim foreshadowing, the Washington Monument has been closed to the public amid threats of disruption. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf abruptly resigned.

It all added up to some mind-blowing final moments for Trump’s presidency as Democrats and a growing number of Republicans say he is unfit for office and could do more damage after inciting a crowd that has violently ransacked the US Capitol last Wednesday.

“President Trump has seriously endangered the security of the United States and its government institutions,” the four-page impeachment bill reads.

“He will remain a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution if he is allowed to remain in power,” it read.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is summoning lawmakers to Washington for the votes, and Democrats aren’t the only ones saying Trump must leave.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined Senator Lisa Murkowski of the GOP of Alaska over the weekend in calling on Trump to “leave as soon as possible.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Urged GOP colleagues in the House on Monday night to “vote your conscience,” according to a person who was granted anonymity to discuss the private call. She has criticized Trump’s actions, but has not publicly said how she will vote.

While awaiting impeachment, Democrats have 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.

The Democratic House resolution was blocked by Republicans. However, the full house is due to hold a recorded vote on Tuesday, and it is expected to pass. After that, Pelosi said, Pence will have 24 hours to respond. Then comes the impeachment procedure.

Pence has given no indication that he is ready to pursue a course involving the 25th Amendment.

He and Trump met Monday night for the first time since the attack on Capitol Hill, a senior administration official said.

Trump and Pence had a “good chat” in the Oval Office to discuss the week ahead, and they are committed to continuing to work for the rest of their term, the official said, who spoke under cover. of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

No member of Cabinet has publicly called for Trump to be removed from office by the 25th Amendment.

As security tightened, Biden said on Monday he was “not afraid” to take the oath outside – as is traditionally done on the West Steps of the Capitol, one of the areas where people have stormed the building.

Regarding the rioters, Biden said: “It is extremely important that a serious focus is placed on the detention of those individuals who have engaged in sedition and the threat of life, the degradation of public property, to serious damage – that they are held responsible.

Biden said he had conversations with senators ahead of a possible impeachment trial, which some said would darken his administration’s opening days.

Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer was exploring ways to immediately summon the Senate for trial as soon as the House takes action, although Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to agree. The President-elect suggested dividing the Senate’s time, perhaps “spend half a day on the impeachment, half a day on the appointment and confirmation of my people in the Senate, as well as on the package” for more COVID relief.

As Congress briefly resumed Monday, unease swept through the government. More lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19 after taking cover during the siege. And new security officials were quickly installed after the Capitol Police chief and others were ousted in the attack on the iconic Dome of Democracy. Some GOP lawmakers, including Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, have faced a public backlash for their riot-day efforts to try to overturn Biden’s election.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Moved the 25th Amendment resolution during Monday’s brief session. He was blocked by Representative Alex Mooney, RW.Va., as other GOP lawmakers stood by his side.

Pelosi said Republicans were allowing Trump’s disorderly, unstable and deranged acts of sedition to continue. Their complicity endangers America, erodes our democracy, and it must end.

However, Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Trump ally, said in a letter to his colleagues that “impeachment right now would have the opposite effect of bringing our country closer together.”

He said he would look into possible censorship of the president. But House Republicans are divided and a few can vote for impeachment.

The Representatives’ Impeachment Bill. David Cicillin of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Jerrold Nadler of New York take inspiration from Trump’s false claims about his electoral loss to Biden.

Judges across the country, including some appointed by Trump, have repeatedly dismissed cases challenging the election results, and Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, said there was no sign widespread fraud.

The impeachment legislation also details Trump’s pressure on Georgia state officials to “find” more voice for him, as well as his White House rally ahead of the Capitol siege, in which he encouraged thousands of supporters last Wednesday to “fight like hell” and march. to the building.

The mob overpowered the police, broke through security lines and windows and sacked the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to disperse as they finalized Biden’s victory over Trump in the Electoral College.

While some have questioned the president’s impeachment so close to the end of his term, Democrats and others argue that he must be held accountable and barred from future public office. He is said to be the only president indicted twice.

House Democrats are considering a strategy to delay sending impeachment items to the Senate for trial by 100 days, so Biden can focus on other priorities.

There is a precedent for continuing the indictment after the departure of an official. In 1876, during the Ulysses Grant administration, Secretary of War William Belknap was indicted by the House on the day he resigned, and the Senate called a trial months later. He was acquitted.

Senator Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Said he would review all articles sent by the House. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., A frequent critic of Trump, said he would “vote the right way” if the matter came to him.

House effort leader Cicillin tweeted Monday that “we now have the votes to impeach,” including 213 cosponsors and private engagements.

Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press editors Alan Fram, Jill Colvin, Ellen Knickmeyer, Tom Beaumont and Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

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