Wed | Jan 20, 2021

Dems prep ‘incitement of insurrection’ charge against Trump

Published:Tuesday | January 12, 2021 | 12:09 AM
Representative David Cicilline, Democrat from Rhode Island, talks to reporters just outside the House chamber after a resolution calling for the removal of President Donald Trump from office was blocked by Republicans at the Capitol in Washington yesterday
Representative David Cicilline, Democrat from Rhode Island, talks to reporters just outside the House chamber after a resolution calling for the removal of President Donald Trump from office was blocked by Republicans at the Capitol in Washington yesterday.


With impeachment pressure mounting, the House worked swiftly on Monday to try to oust President Donald Trump from office, pushing the vice-president and Cabinet to act first in an extraordinary effort to remove Trump in the final days of his presidency.

Trump faces a single charge -- “incitement of insurrection” – in an impeachment resolution that the House will begin debating on Wednesday. First, Democrats called on Vice-President Mike Pence to invoke constitutional authority under the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office before January 20, when Democrat Joe Biden is to be inaugurated.

It all adds up to stunning final moments for Trump’s presidency, as Democrats and a growing number of Republicans declare that he is unfit for office and could do more damage after inciting a mob that ransacked the US Capitol in a deadly siege last Wednesday.

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

“He will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office,” it reads.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is recalling lawmakers to Washington for votes, as more Republicans say it’s time for Trump to resign. Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to “go away as soon as possible”.

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 rioters stormed the building.

Biden said, “It is critically important that there’ll be a real serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatening lives, defacing public property, caused great damage – that they be held accountable.”

Biden also said he’s had conversations with senators ahead of a possible impeachment trial. He suggested splitting lawmakers’ time, perhaps “go a half-day on dealing with impeachment, a half-day on getting my people nominated and confirmed in the Senate, as well as moving on the package” for more COVID relief.

As Congress briefly resumed, an uneasiness swept the government. The National Park Service announced it was shutting down public access to the Washington Monument amid threats to disrupt Biden’s inauguration. More lawmakers tested positive for COVID-19 after sheltering during the siege. And new security officials were quickly installed after the Capitol police chief and others were ousted in a fallout from the extraordinary attack on the iconic dome of democracy.

A House resolution calling on Vice-President Pence to invoke constitutional authority to remove Trump from office was blocked by Republicans. However, the full House is set to hold a roll-call vote on that resolution today, and it is expected to pass.

After that, Pelosi said Pence will have 24 hours to respond. Next, the House would proceed to impeachment. A vote could come on Wednesday.

Pence has given no indication he is ready to proceed on such a course, which would involve invoking the 25th Amendment to the Constitution with a vote by a majority of the Cabinet to oust Trump before January 20.

House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md, offered the resolution during the brief session, and said lawmakers must act to ensure that Trump is “removed from the ability to repeat the seditious action that he took”.

It was blocked by Alex Mooney, Republican from Virginia, as other GOP lawmakers stood by him.

Pelosi said the Republicans were enabling Trump’s “unhinged, unstable and deranged acts of sedition to continue. Their complicity endangers America, erodes our Democracy, and it must end”.

The impeachment bill from Representatives David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Jerrold Nadler of New York draws from Trump’s own false statements about his election defeat to Biden.

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

The impeachment legislation details Trump’s pressure on state officials in Georgia to “find” him more votes and 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 police, broke through security lines and windows, and rampaged through the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to scatter as they were finalising Biden’s victory over Trump in the Electoral College.

While some have questioned impeaching the president so close to the end of his term, Democrats and others argue that he must be held accountable for his actions and prevented from ever again seeking public office. He would be the only president twice impeached.