People wearing protective masks hold a U.S. flag at the Barclays Center during the “Get him out! defend democracy” rally, a day after supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 7, 2021.
Jeenah Moon | Reuters
The House could move next week to impeach President Donald Trump if Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet do not remove the president before then, a top Democrat said Friday.
Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, the fourth ranking House Democrat, told CNN that the chamber could act “as early as mid-next week.” She said the House could take steps to bring articles of impeachment to the floor without going through committee hearings and votes.
The House has prepared to impeach Trump an unprecedented second time after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Wednesday and delayed Congress’ formal count of President-elect Joe Biden’s election win. At least five people, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer, died as a result of the attack on the legislature.
Trump spoke to his supporters before they marched on the Capitol, spouting conspiracy theories that widespread fraud cost him the election. He lied to his supporters about the results for two months before he acknowledged Thursday that a “new administration” would take power.
Biden will take office on Jan. 20. Democrats have called for Trump’s removal as they warn he could further degrade democratic institutions or put more lives at risk during his final days in office.
But it is unclear whether they have enough time to remove the president before Inauguration Day — or if Republicans will join them in the process.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called Thursday for Pence and Trump’s Cabinet to remove Trump by invoking the 25th Amendment. They said he could not remain in office after inciting an “insurrection.” More than 190 other lawmakers, only one of them a Republican, have also called for Trump’s removal since the attack.
Pelosi and Schumer said invoking the 25th Amendment, which requires support from Pence and a majority of the Cabinet, would be the quickest way to remove Trump. However, Pence reportedly does not back the move. While officials including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the prospect of removing Trump, they decided not to take the step for now.
The day after hundreds of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi again said that Vice President Mike Pence should invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office or she will begin impeachment proceedings against the President during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC January 7, 2021.
Melina Mara | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Pelosi and Schumer threatened to move forward with impeachment if Pence and the Cabinet do no act. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., called for the president’s removal Thursday. He said he could take steps to expedite the process.
“We have a limited period of time in which to act,” Nadler said in a statement. “The nation cannot afford a lengthy, drawn out process, and I support bringing articles of impeachment directly to the House floor.”
Democrats will hold a caucus call on Friday where they are expected to discuss plans to remove the president.
The Democratic-held House would have enough support to impeach Trump, likely with a handful of Republican votes. The chamber did so once in Dec. 2019.
But the GOP-controlled Senate, which acquitted the president last year, may not follow suit. Only one Republican — Mitt Romney of Utah — voted to remove Trump after his first impeachment trial.
Until Democratic Senators-elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff from Georgia are sworn in to seal a Democratic majority, Republicans will hold a 51-48 edge in the Senate. A two-thirds vote to remove Trump would need 66 votes, with 18 Republicans on board.
At least one Republican who voted against removing Trump the first time would give it more serious consideration now.
“If the House, they come together and have a process, I would definitely consider whatever articles they might move, because as I’ve told you, I believe the president has disregarded his oath of office. … What he did was wicked,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., told CBS on Friday.