The House is set to issue a largely futile ultimatum to Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday, demanding he invoke constitutional authority to remove President Donald Trump from office, as a prelude to an expected vote to impeach the president for the second time in little more than a year.
Pence met with Trump Monday night and the two agreed to work together through the end of their term, according to an official, leaving little doubt that the vice president will spurn the House demand. That means House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will go through with a vote on a single article of impeachment as soon as Wednesday.
The resolution being pushed through the House by the majority Democrats on Tuesday calls on Pence to invoke the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to convene the cabinet and declare that as a result of his encouraging a mob that stormed the Capitol that Trump is unable to perform as president.
The vote serves mostly as a symbolic gesture by Democrats intended to show they exhausted all options before moving on a historic second impeachment of the president during his last days in office.
Pence met with Trump Monday for the first time since the siege at the Capitol, where the vice president was presiding over a joint session of Congress. Pence has been described as initially furious at Trump over the violence. But on Monday, the official said the two men agreed that people who broke the law at the Capitol don’t represent Trump’s “America First” movement and pledged to continue their work on behalf of the country for the remainder of their term.
The assault on the Capitol Jan. 6 as Congress was certifying the Electoral College votes that made Joe Biden president-elect has put Trump and Republicans under pressure from all sides. Trump stoked his supporters’ fury in a speech to them before the march to Capitol Hill and more than 100 Republicans in Congress signed on to object to counting the electoral votes from states the Biden won.
Almost every Democrat in the House has expressed support for the impeachment resolution and one if its main sponsors, Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline, said he expected it also would draw Republican votes. Several GOP lawmakers, including Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, have denounced both the effort to object to the certification of electors — one of the main motivators for the crowd of Trump supporters — and the president fueling their anger.
“I expect we will have Republican support,” Cicilline said Monday.
Yet the number of Republicans is likely to be very small. Moderates like New York’s Tom Reed have come out against impeachment, favoring a censure resolution instead.
The four-page impeachment resolution includes a single article accusing Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors for “Incitement of Insurrection,” and says he “willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol.” It also cites Trump’s telephone call to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, urging that he “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win there.
“In all this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government,” the resolution says.
Many House Republicans, including those who voted to throw out electoral votes that Biden received, have warned that another impeachment vote would widen existing divisions in the country. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who voted to object to Arizona and Pennsylvania electors, told colleagues Monday that he opposes impeaching Trump, but floated other potential responses, including censure.
He told fellow Republicans in a conference call that Trump had acknowledged having some responsibility for the riot, according to a lawmaker on the call, and another person familiar with the matter.
Democrats, meanwhile, are grappling with how to manage the impeachment and a trial in the Senate while Biden is getting his administration up and running.
The Senate is currently in recess, and bringing senators back before Jan. 19 would require support from Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who remains majority leader at least until Inauguration Day. A trial that begins on that day, as it would under current rules, would delay confirmation of Biden’s cabinet nominees and early legislative initiatives, including a new stimulus.
While many House Democrats are calling for an immediate Senate trial, Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, a member of Pelosi’s leadership team, has suggested delaying a Senate trial for at least the first 100 days of the Biden administration.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is exploring whether the chamber can be called into an emergency session for a trial before Inauguration Day. Yet that would at least require the cooperation of McConnell, who hasn’t said whether he would back impeaching the president or expediting a trial.
It’s also likely that a Republican senator would object, killing the plan. Senator Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, said in a statement Monday that “pushing partisan driven articles of impeachment through Congress days before the inauguration will further divide our country.”
Some Democrats also were sending warnings about proceeding with an impeachment and trial. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin has said that while Trump deserves to be impeached, following through and starting a trial as Biden is trying to get his administration off the ground is impractical.
It “basically stops us from putting a government together,” he said Sunday on CNN.
Source: Billy House, Bloomberg
— With assistance by Jennifer Jacobs