House Democrats to Introduce Article of Impeachment vs Trump
Three House Democrats plan to introduce an article of impeachment against President Trump on Monday for incitement of insurrection after Wednesday's riots at the U.S. Capitol, multiple sources familiar with the efforts tell CBS News.
The article of impeachment accuses the president of "willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States." While Congress was counting the Electoral College votes, the article says that Mr. Trump, addressing supporters nearby, "willfully made statements that encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — imminent lawless action at the Capitol."
"Incited by President Trump, a mob unlawfully breached the Capitol, injured law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress and the Vice President, interfered with the Joint Session's solemn constitutional duty to certify the election results, and engaged in violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts," the article says.
As a result, he "gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coordinate branch of government. He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States."
For this, the article says, Mr. Trump should be impeached, removed and disqualified from holding public office again.
This development comes two days after a mob of Trump supporters overran the Capitol on Wednesday in riots that resulted in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol policeman who was trying to help reestablish control at the Capitol complex.
The bill has nearly 160 cosponsors, a sign of the broad support among House Democrats to take action in the wake of the violence at the Capitol. It was authored by Democratic Representatives Ted Lieu of California, and David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who began drafting it while sheltering in place Wednesday in the Capitol complex. Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin also helped write the article.
For three hours Friday, the caucus spoke on a conference call to discuss the prospect of removing the president from office, according to a source who was on the call.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that "the president chose to be an insurrectionist," and raised both impeachment and the 25th Amendment as means to remove the president.
"Impeachment encourages conversation on the 25th Amendment," she said. "That's picked up a lot of steam."
Democrats overwhelmingly back the effort, with just one, Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader, arguing that such a move would be too divisive for the country.
The White House called the impeachment article "politically motivated" and repeated Mr. Trump's assertions in a video Thursday that he was calling for "healing and unity."
Pelosi told House Democrats that her preference would be to see Mr. Trump removed through the 25th Amendment, but impeachment would be on the table if that did not happen. She intends to discuss the matter with President-elect Joe Biden Friday afternoon.
Before his conversation with Pelosi, the president-elect did not express a preference for action; at a Friday press conference, Mr. Biden told reporters, "What the Congress decides to do is for them to decide."
A House impeachment resolution would move to the floor and could get a vote quickly, because there would be no hearings to present evidence. The Judiciary Committee has not yet been constituted for the 117th Congress, so an impeachment resolution would go directly to the floor under what's known as a "privileged resolution." A simple majority of members in the House is required for impeachment, so it seems likely to pass.
However, this is where the proceedings could be an impediment to Mr. Biden: the impeachment article would then move to the Senate for consideration, monopolizing the calendar just ahead of Mr. Biden's inauguration.
Once the Senate receives articles of impeachment, it is required to consider them before acting on any other business — including confirming any nominees for the incoming president's cabinet. There's already a confirmation hearing scheduled for Mr. Biden's pick to lead the Defense Department, retired General Lloyd Austin, on January 19, the day before inauguration. That would potentially be delayed. The Senate would also have to delay a vote on a waiver to allow him to serve as defense secretary, given his recent departure from the military.
Two-thirds of the Senate — 67 senators — would be required to remove him from office. Mr. Trump is on track to be the first president in U.S. history to undergo impeachment proceedings twice.
The House impeached Mr. Trump in December 2018 on charges of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power, although he was acquitted by the Senate in early February 2019. Only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney, voted to remove Mr. Trump from office.
Here is the article that will be introduced:
Rebecca Kaplan covers the presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.