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Pelosi tells House to move forward with impeachment if Trump does not resign

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Key Points
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats to move forward with impeachment if President Donald Trump does not resign following the pro-Trump takeover of the Capitol this week.
  • Three Democrats plan to introduce at least one article of impeachment on Monday.
  • Democrats are calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to remove the president, but say they will take action if the executive branch does not.
  • Democratic lawmakers say it is dangerous to leave Trump in office even until President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020.
Ting Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the House to move ahead with impeachment if President Donald Trump does not resign after helping to stoke a mob's deadly takeover of the U.S. Capitol, she said Friday.

"It is the hope of Members that the President will immediately resign," the California Democrat said in a statement after a call with her caucus. "But if he does not, I have instructed the Rules Committee to be prepared to move forward with Congressman Jamie Raskin's 25th Amendment legislation and a motion for impeachment."

The House Rules Committee is expected to expedite impeachment proceedings without committee hearings or votes. Those steps would slow down the process only days before Trump will leave office on Jan. 20. The separate bill Pelosi referenced, drawn up by Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, would set up a commission as part of the formal steps Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet could take to remove Trump from office.

The president has given no indication he will consider stepping down. The vice president reportedly opposes invoking the 25th Amendment.

The House has prepared to impeach Trump an unprecedented second time after the president's supporters 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.

Raskin and Reps. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Ted Lieu, D-Calif., plan to introduce at least one article of impeachment on Monday related to Trump inciting the riots, NBC News reported.

Trump spoke to his supporters before they marched on the Capitol, spouting conspiracy theories that widespread fraud cost him the election. He lied to them about the results for two months before he acknowledged Thursday that a "new administration" would take power.

A draft article of impeachment obtained by NBC News titled "Incitement of Insurrection" charges that Trump "engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States." It continues to state that Trump "threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coordinate branch of government," betraying "his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States."

The article's content could change before Monday. In a tweeted statement, Lieu said the measure has more than 150 cosponsors. He added that "doing nothing is not an option."

Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, earlier told CNN that the chamber could move to impeach Trump "as early as mid-next week."

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.

In a statement Friday, White House spokesman Judd Deere said impeaching "a President with 12 days remaining in his term will only serve to further divide our great country."

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Trump concedes the election but doesn't take responsibility for Capitol unrest

It is unclear whether Democrats have enough time to remove the president before Inauguration Day — or how many Republicans will join them in the process. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who voted to object to counting Biden's Arizona and Pennsylvania electoral wins after the mob attacked the Capitol, said he opposed impeachment because it will "only divide our country more."

Pelosi 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.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, called on Trump to resign but did not comment on impeachment.

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 ensure the president leaves office. 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

In a letter to Democrats on Friday, Pelosi said she and Schumer "hope to hear from [Pence] as soon as possible" about whether he will invoke the 25th Amendment.

"If the President does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action," she wrote.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said Thursday that lawmakers could take steps to expedite the impeachment 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."

Pelosi planned to speak to Biden about the process on Friday, according to NBC. The president-elect said Friday that he would leave it up to Congress to decide what actions to take before he is inaugurated.

The Democratic-held House would have enough support to impeach Trump, likely with a handful of Republican votes. The chamber did so once in December 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.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., argued in a Friday tweet that impeaching Trump now would "do more harm than good." He said the effort to remove a president who helped to spark a siege of the Capitol "would not only be unsuccessful in the Senate but would be a dangerous precedent for the future of the presidency."

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