Democrats will launch a second attempt to impeach Donald Trump from office on Monday when they present articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives on the rampage on Capitol Hill by supporters of the president.
Democratic congressional aides said they collected more than 170 signatures in support of impeachment in two days – a sign of the intense anger felt in Congress against the pro-Trump mob who stormed the Capitol building earlier this week.
While members of Congress pushed this weekend to remove the president for “incitement to insurgency”, the police arrested several of his supporters for their role in Wednesday’s violence.
The Ministry of Justice announced Saturday that three other men – Jacob Anthony Chansley, Derrick Evans and Adam Johnson – had been charged in connection with the riots.
Mr Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, is a well-known supporter of the QAnon conspiracy movement, and was reportedly pictured on Wednesday standing at Vice President Mike Pence’s Senate seat, shirtless, wearing horns and wearing a spear. He was charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds.
Mr. Evans is a recently elected member of the West Virginia House of Delegates. The Justice Department alleged in a statement that it broadcast live on its Facebook page a video in which he was seen entering through the door of the Capitol building and shouting, “We are, we are! Derrick Evans is on Capitol Hill! “
The DOJ claimed Mr Johnson was the man depicted in a widely circulated photograph carrying the lectern of House Democratic President Nancy Pelosi inside the building.
Ms Pelosi has yet to say whether she will hold a vote on the articles of impeachment, but supports “Go ahead” with the process if Mr. Trump does not resign. Mr Biden himself is lukewarm on the move, saying he wants to focus on the transition.
Any vote is likely to pass the democratically controlled House, making Mr. Trump the first president in history to be impeached twice. He would then go to the Senate, which is not expected to meet on important business until Jan. 19 – the day before Mr. Biden’s inauguration – according to a memo from Mitch McConnell, Republican House leader, obtained by the Washington Post. .
That would mean that the issue of a Senate trial would likely fall to a Democrat-controlled Senate during Biden’s first term. If Mr. Trump were to be convicted, the Senate could vote to prevent him from running again, halting all races in 2024.
Members of both parties condemned the president for cheering on his supporters during a rally in Washington on Wednesday shortly before they stormed the Capitol building. There they smashed furniture, fought with the police, and posed for photos. Five people were killed, including one U.S. Capitol Police Officer. Mr Trump continues to claim, without merit, that he lost the 2020 election only through massive fraud.
David Cicillin, a Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, distributed draft articles of impeachment to colleagues on Friday, accusing Mr. Trump of “deliberate incitement to violence against the United States government.”
Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the Republican House minority who backed Mr. Trump’s efforts to deny certification of Mr. Biden’s electoral college victory on Wednesday, opposes the president’s impeachment, saying it would expand divisions.
But other Republicans seem more receptive as the party is torn over its future post-Trump. Ben Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska who is a frequent critic of Trump, said he would “definitely consider” any impeachment article drafted by Democrats.
“I think the president ignored his oath,” Sasse added. “What he did was mean.”
House of Representatives Adam Kinzinger called on Mr Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, under which the vice president can remove the president’s powers if a cabinet majority agrees he is unable to perform its duties.
Lisa Murkowski, the Republican Senator from Alaska, said at the weekend that she wanted Mr. Trump to step down. However, neither has said how they would vote in an impeachment proceeding.
The siege on Capitol Hill follows a weeks-long effort by Mr. Trump to overturn the November election result, which has repeatedly failed in court.
Critics of the president accuse him of putting undue pressure on Republican state officials to help reverse Mr. Biden’s election victory. the Washington post reported on Saturday that Mr Trump had called last month the chief investigator of the Georgian elections, in which he urged the official to “find the fraud”.
This followed revelations of a taped call to Brad Raffensperger, Georgian Secretary of State, in which he urged the Republican official to “find” the 11,780 votes he would need to win the state.
The Wall Street Journal also claimed that the White House pressured Atlanta’s top federal prosecutor to resign because President Trump was angry that he failed to properly investigate his allegations of electoral fraud.
Mr. Trump was impeached last year by the House but acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate on allegations, he pressured the Ukrainian president to help uncover the dirt on Mr Biden.
Mr Trump looked more and more isolated this weekend after Twitter banned his account from his platform, denying him his most expensive communication platform.
The decision by the social media company drew a fierce denunciation from supporters of Mr. Trump.
“Big Tech’s PURGE, censorship and abuse of power are absurd and deeply dangerous,” Ted Cruz tweeted. The Texas senator led the group of Republicans who refused to certify Mr. Biden’s electoral college victory, citing the president’s unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud.