Congressional Democrats began a push on Monday to force U.S. President Donald Trump from office, introducing one article of impeachment accusing him of inciting insurrection over a violent attack on the Capitol last week.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is expected to take up the matter as early as Wednesday. Passage would make Trump, a Republican, the only president in US history to be impeached twice.
Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol last week, forcing lawmakers who were certifying Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory into hiding in a harrowing assault on the heart of American democracy that left five dead.
The violence came after Trump urged supporters to march on the Capitol at a rally where he repeated false claims that his resounding defeat in the Nov. 3 election was illegitimate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, many of her fellow Democrats and a handful of Republicans say the Republican president should not be trusted to serve out his term, which ends on Jan. 20.
“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” Pelosi wrote to her fellow House Democrats on Sunday.
Earlier, Republicans blocked an effort to immediately consider a resolution asking Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the U.S. Constitution’s never-used 25th Amendment to remove an unfit president.
The House is expected on Tuesday to vote on the resolution calling for use of the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and the Cabinet to remove a president who is incapable of fulfilling his duties. Pence and his fellow Republicans have shown little interest in invoking the amendment.
Dozens of people who attacked police officers, stole computers and smashed windows at the Capitol have been arrested for their role in the violence, and officials have opened 25 domestic terrorism investigations. Trump acknowledged that a new administration would take office on Jan. 20 in a video statement after the attack but has not appeared in public.
Twitter and Facebook have suspended his accounts, citing the risk of him inciting violence. Representative Jim McGovern, the chairman of the House Rules Committee, said he expected the impeachment article to come to the floor for debate as soon as Wednesday, and he thought it would pass.
“What this president did is unconscionable, and he needs to be held to account,” McGovern told CNN. Pence was in the Capitol along with his family when Trump’s supporters attacked, and he and Trump are currently not on speaking terms. Pence’s office did not respond to questions about the issue.
A source said last week he was opposed to the idea of using the 25th Amendment to oust Trump. Pelosi had said the House could vote to impeach Trump on the charge of insurrection if Pence did not act. Aides to House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who voted against recognizing Biden’s victory, did not respond to a request for comment.
House Democrats impeached Trump in December 2019 for pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden, but the Republican-controlled Senate voted not to convict him. Even if the House impeaches Trump again, the Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans, would not take up the charges until Jan. 19 at the earliest, Trump’s last full day in office.