Democrats to Open Trump Impeachment Wednesday Unless Pence Acts

(Bloomberg) -- House Democrats Monday introduced a resolution to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time, setting up a vote this week unless Vice President Mike Pence uses his constitutional authority to remove the president.

A majority the Democratic-controlled House has signed on to the resolution led by Representatives David Cicilline, Jamie Raskin and Ted Lieu charging Trump with inciting the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6th. It seeks to both remove him from the presidency and prevent him from ever holding office again.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told Democrats on a conference call that the House will take up the resolution Wednesday.

Cicilline said Monday it has enough support for passage, including some Republicans.

“I expect we will have Republican support,” he said. “We should pass it and the Senate should take it up immediately.”

The four-page 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” as Congress was certifying the Electoral College results affirming that Joe Biden won the presidency. It also cites Trumps call to Georgia’s secretary of state urging the local official to “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.

Republicans blocked Hoyer from fast-tracking a resolution urging Pence and Trump’s Cabinet to use the 25th Amendment to oust Trump. House members are being called back to Washington for a roll call vote on that measure Tuesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said if Pence doesn’t respond to the ultimatum in 24 hours, the House will move toward a vote on an impeachment resolution. Pence has privately dismissed the possibility that he would convene the cabinet to remove Trump.

If the House impeaches Trump, some Democrats are pressing Pelosi to delay sending the resolution to the Senate to prevent the trial from interrupting the beginning of Biden’s administration. That would give the new president time to get Cabinet members confirmed and focus on legislative priorities.

The Senate is in recess and any trial for Trump could not begin until Jan. 20 at the earliest without the backing of all senators. And once a trial is under way, the Senate couldn’t take up other business.

“Let’s give president-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running. And maybe we will send the articles some time after that,” Representative James Clyburn, a member of House Democratic leadership, said Sunday on CNN.

Biden is treading carefully. He said on Monday that while Trump does not deserve to be in office after last week’s rioting, his first priority is getting a stimulus bill passed. He said he has talked with people in the House and Senate about the Senate spending part of its time on an impeachment trial and another portion confirming cabinet nominees and dealing with legislation.

That would likely require agreement from all Republicans.

With a groundswell of anger among Democrats over the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 by a mob encouraged by Trump, Pelosi said the House needed to act speedily.

“The President’s threat to America is urgent, and so too will be our action,” Pelosi said in a statement Monday.

Hoyer said that the issue at hand “is we have a president most of us believe participated in encouraging an insurrection and an attack on this building and on democracy and trying to subvert the counting of the presidential ballot.”

Pelosi and other members of her leadership team plan a conference call Monday afternoon to discuss the path ahead.

Among Republicans there’s no unified position emerging on a response to Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, but it’s clear most will oppose impeachment. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy has set a conference call with rank-and-file members for Monday afternoon. But a high-level Republican aide said most Republicans are waiting to see what precisely Democrats decide to do.

There’s been an effort by Republicans to ask Biden to squelch the Democratic momentum for impeaching Trump.

McCarthy, who was among the Republicans who voted against accepting Electoral College votes from two states Biden won -- even after the riots -- tweeted on Friday that an impeachment “will only divide our country more.”

Separately, a small group of House Republicans who opposed GOP objections to Biden’s Electoral College victory asked the president-elect to persuade Pelosi to back off from impeaching Trump. The lawmakers, led by Representative Ken Buck of Colorado, warned in a Saturday letter to Biden that impeachment would inflame Trump’s supporters and damage the incoming president’s efforts to unify the country.

A few Republicans have joined calls for Trump to resign, but the president has given no sign he’s contemplating it. He has plans this week to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border area to promote his wall building on the frontier, and is also said to be preparing at least one more round of pardons.

(Updates with Hoyer setting Wednesday for consideration of impeachment in third paragraph, Biden remarks in 13th)