WASHINGTON — House Democrats on Monday introduced an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump for inciting a mob that attacked the Capitol last week, vowing to press the charge as Republicans blocked a separate move to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to strip him of power under the 25th Amendment.
The dual actions came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her caucus sought to ratchet up pressure on Pence to intervene and push Trump to resign. If they did not, the Democrats promised immediate consequences for Trump’s role in an attack that put the lives of the vice president, members of Congress and thousands of staff working on Capitol Hill at risk as officials met to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
“The president’s threat to America is urgent, and so too will be our action,” Pelosi said Monday.
As expected, Republicans objected to a resolution calling on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, meaning that the House would have to call a full vote on the measure, most likely Tuesday. Democratic leaders were confident it would pass and pressured Republican lawmakers to vote with them to beseech the vice president, who is said to be opposed to using the powers outlined in the Constitution, to do so.
It was a remarkable threat. If Pence does not intervene “within 24 hours” after passage and the president does not resign, House leaders said they would move Wednesday to consider the impeachment resolution on the floor, just a week after the attack. Already more than 210 Democrats have signed onto the leading charge, just shy of a majority of the House. Several Republicans were said to be considering voting to impeach for the first time, although party leaders were opposed.
“There may well be a vote on impeachment on Wednesday,” Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the majority leader, told reporters.
He also pushed back against those arguing the House should delay sending the case to the Senate for trial until after Biden has a chance to fill his Cabinet and pass coronavirus relief legislation.
“Whether impeachment can pass the United States Senate is not the issue,” he said. “The issue is we have a president who most of us believe participated in encouraging an insurrection and attack on this building, and on democracy and trying to subvert the counting of the presidential ballot.”
The four-page impeachment article charges Trump with “inciting violence against the government of the United States” when he sowed bogus claims about election fraud and encouraged his supporters at a rally outside the White House to take extraordinary measures to stop the counting of electoral votes underway at the Capitol. A short time later, rioters mobbed the building, ransacking the seat of U.S. government and killing a Capitol Police officer. (Four others also died as a result of injuries or medical emergencies on Capitol grounds.)
Last-minute changes were made late Sunday to include a reference to the 14th Amendment, the post-Civil War era addition to the Constitution that prohibits anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States from holding future office. Lawmakers also decided to cite specific language from Trump’s speech Wednesday, inciting the crowd, quoting him saying: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Lawmakers involved in the effort — led by Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Ted Lieu of California — cautioned that the language could still change before any House vote. An overlapping group led by Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota also introduced a set of two articles, which also charged Trump with abuse of power, that could still be incorporated into whatever the House puts forward for a vote.