Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
Democrats just launched an attempt to impeach President Trump for the second time.
House Democrats introduced a single article of impeachment for “incitement of insurrection” Monday morning after the violent storming of the Capitol on January 6. The House is expected to vote on the measure later this week.
The move marks a stunning effort to slap a sitting U.S. president with a second impeachment for the first time in American history, a move that would forever brand Trump as a historic presidential loser. Yet impeaching Trump now also stands little chance of removing him from office before his term ends next week on January 20, even though some Republicans are calling on Trump to resign.
The measure aims to impeach Trump over his role in amping up the crowd before the January 6 riot, and points out that the Constitution bars anyone engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. from holding political office.
The text of the resolution quotes Trump telling the angry mob, moments before violence erupted: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged Vice President Mike Pence to strip Trump of his presidential powers using the 25th Amendment. She is also expected to seek a vote calling on Pence and the Cabinet to follow through. Pelosi has cast Trump as an existential threat to the United States who must be removed immediately.
“Sadly, the person that’s running the executive branch is a deranged, unhinged, dangerous president of the United States,” Pelosi said in a “60 Minutes” interview broadcast on Sunday night. “He has done something so serious that there should be prosecution against him.”
The impeachment effort faces a complicated political timeline, however. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has circulated a memo stating that the Senate cannot reconvene to start an impeachment trial in the Senate until January 19 at the earliest. That means the Senate might get tied up arguing over Trump’s fate during the first weeks of President-elect Joe Biden’s administration—at a moment when Biden would likely rather be using the Senate to confirm his Cabinet members, fight the coronavirus pandemic, and distribute emergency economic relief.
Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives in December 2019 for attempting to pressure the Ukrainian president to announce an investigation of Biden’s family, in what Democrats alleged was clearly an attempt to swing the 2020 election in his favor. But the attempt to remove Trump from office failed in the Senate a year ago this month, after almost all Republicans in the chamber voted to clear him of the charge.
This time, however, some Republicans seem pretty pissed at Trump. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said on Sunday that Trump should resign and possibly face “criminal liability” for his actions. Alaska’s Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski told the Alaska Daily News flatly: “I want him out.”
But whether Biden’s Justice Department can, or will, charge Trump remains far from certain.