U.S. President Donald Trump departs the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021.
Samuel Corum | Bloomberg | Getty Images
President Donald Trump, a man hyperaware of his achievements and place in history, will add a first to his record on Wednesday.
Seven days before the president leaves office, the House plans to charge him with high crimes and misdemeanors for inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week. Trump will become the first president impeached by the chamber twice.
The president’s behavior in the 13 months since the first impeachment has left House Democrats making a more clear-cut case than the first time around.
The four-page article of impeachment the chamber will vote on Wednesday argues Trump fed his supporters months of false claims that widespread fraud cost him the 2020 election, then urged them to contest the results before they marched to the Capitol and disrupted Congress’ count of President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
“He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government. He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to manifest injury of the people of the United States,” the House’s charging document reads.
After the insurrection that killed five people, including a Capitol police officer, Democrats have argued allowing Trump to serve out his term both lets him dodge consequences and raises the prospect of more violence before Biden’s inauguration. Still, Congress may not have enough time to push the president out of office before next week.
Democrats urged Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to start the faster process of removing Trump through the 25th Amendment. Pence refused, arguing in a Tuesday letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that the move is not “in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution.”
Once the House passes the impeachment article and sends it to the Senate, the upper chamber has to quickly start a trial. It then would vote on whether to convict Trump. The House will send the article across the Capitol immediately, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told NBC News on Wednesday.
The Senate as of now plans to reconvene on Jan. 19. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has argued Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., can use emergency powers to bring the chamber back sooner.
While the Senate may not have enough time to remove the president from office, it can stop him from becoming president again in 2025. He could also lose perks given to former presidents.
A Congress on edge after the insurrection threatened lawmakers’ lives went to work in an unrecognizable environment Wednesday. Enhanced fortifications stood outside the Capitol. National Guard members slept overnight in the halls of the legislature and Capitol Visitors Center. Lawmakers had to go through a metal detector to get on the House floor for a Tuesday night vote, prompting outrage from some Republicans.
The first time the House impeached Trump, only one congressional Republican — Mitt Romney of Utah — joined Democrats in trying to remove the president. The Capitol insurrection made more GOP lawmakers willing to boot their party’s president from office.
At least five House Republicans will vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday. They include Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking member of the GOP caucus.
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” she said in a statement of Trump’s behavior before and after the attack.
No Senate Republicans have yet said they will vote to remove Trump. The New York Times reported that McConnell believes Trump committed impeachable offenses, but did not say whether he support conviction in the Senate.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., has said he would “consider” whatever article the House sends across the Capitol. Two other GOP senators — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — have called on Trump to resign.
The president has not taken any responsibility for the Capitol invasion. On Tuesday, he defended himself, saying, “People thought what I said was totally appropriate.”
He also said impeachment is “causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger.”
Some Republicans suggested Trump would learn a lesson and rein in his behavior after the first impeachment. Other GOP lawmakers came to the conclusion this week that they cannot trust him to take accountability for his actions.
One Republican, Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, cited Trump’s lack of remorse for helping to incite the Capitol riot in saying he would vote to impeach the president.
“Today the President characterized his inflammatory rhetoric at last Wednesday’s rally as ‘totally appropriate,’ and he expressed no regrets for last week’s violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. This sends exactly the wrong signal to those of us who support the very core of our democratic principles and took a solemn oath to the Constitution,” he said in a Tuesday statement.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.