House Democrats introduce impeachment resolution accusing Trump of ‘incitement of insurrection’

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading efforts to remove President Donald Trump from office following the deadly January 6 assault on the Capitol by his supporters.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading efforts to remove President Donald Trump from office following the deadly January 6 assault on the Capitol by his supporters. © Tasos Katopodis, Reuters

Congressional Democrats on Monday began their drive to force President Donald Trump from office, formally introducing a resolution containing a single article of impeachment on charges of "incitement of insurrection" for his role in the attack on the US Capitol last week.

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The impeachment resolution noted that Trump addressed a rally shortly before his supporters mounted the deadly January 6 assault and said he made statements that "encouraged and foreseeably resulted in" the lawless actions at the Capitol.

“President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government,” read the four-page impeachment bill. “He will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office,” it noted. 

The move came as Republicans on Monday blocked another Democrat resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution and remove Trump from the White House.

The rarely used 25th Amendment of the US Constitution allows the vice president and the Cabinet to remove a president deemed unable or unfit to do the job. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday slammed Republican lawmakers for blocking the resolution.

"The House Republicans rejected this legislation to protect America, enabling the President's unhinged, unstable and deranged acts of sedition to continue," Pelosi said in a statement. "Their complicity endangers America, erodes our Democracy, and it must end."

However, the full House is set to hold a roll call vote on that resolution on Tuesday, 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 Wednesday.

A stunning end to Trump's final 10 days in office was under way as lawmakers warned of the damage the president could still do before Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20. Trump, holed up at the White House, was increasingly isolated after a mob rioted in the Capitol in support of his false claims of election fraud.

'An attempted coup’

Introducing the impeachment resolution, Rep. David Cicilline said the January 6 attack on the Capitol building “was an attempted coup, to overthrow the government, and we have a responsibility as Congress to respond to that".

Speaking to reporters after the introduction of the resolution, Cicilline said Congress has "a particular responsibility to hold everyone accountable who was involved in any way, from the president on down" for the assault.

Trump has been largely silent in recent days, making few statements and holding no news conferences. Twitter, his favoured public platform, has banned him for language that could incite violence.

He plans to travel to Texas on Tuesday in one of his final trips as president, reportedly to claim success in delivering on his pledge to build a border wall to keep immigrants from Mexico out of the US.

Biden ‘not afraid’ as security tightens ahead of inauguration

As Democrats began to act, the US Capitol building was open to lawmakers and staff but under tight security and ringed by a metal fence after Wednesday's assault by Trump supporters that left five people dead.

A violent mob of Trump supporters 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.

The FBI has warned of possible armed protests being planned in Washington, DC, and at all 50 US state capital cities in the run-up to Biden's inauguration, Reuters reported Monday, citing a federal law enforcement source.

Faced with threats of move violence from Trump’s supporters, the National Guard was authorised to send up to 15,000 troops to Washington, and tourists were barred from visiting the Washington Monument.

As security tightened, Biden said 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 the 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-19 relief.

'Imminent threat'

The impeachment bill from Reps. Cicilline, Ted Lieu of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Jerrold Nadler of New York, said Trump threatened “the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power” and “betrayed” trust. 

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

House Democrats launch different procedures to force Trump out of office

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Ca., said Monday on CBS, "We need to move forward with alacrity.”

A Republican senator, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, joined Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to “resign and go away as soon as possible.”

Lawmakers warned of the damage the president could still do before Biden is inaugurated.  

“We will act with urgency because this president represents an imminent threat,” Pelosi said in a letter late Sunday to colleagues emphasising the need for quick action.

“The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”

During an interview on “60 Minutes” aired Sunday, Pelosi invoked the Watergate era when Republicans in the Senate told President Richard Nixon, “It’s over.” 

“That’s what has to happen now,” she said. 

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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