Pelosi, Democrats Strategizing Monday on Capitol Mob Response
(Bloomberg) -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top House lieutenants are holding a call Monday with fellow Democrats on their response to the mob assaults on the U.S. Capitol, a talk they’ll hold shortly after the introduction on the House floor of an impeachment resolution against President Donald Trump.
News of the planned 2 p.m. EST Zoom call, in a memo sent Sunday to member offices, comes as Pelosi has yet to reveal a specific timetable for any impeachment action, though Majority Whip Jim Clyburn on Sunday said he expected it Tuesday or Wednesday.
As of Sunday afternoon, rank-and-file House members who are away this weekend had not been notified to return, and typically receive 48-hour notice to do so.
Clyburn said earlier that the House could vote on impeaching Trump as soon as Tuesday but hold off for months on sending the process to the Senate. By doing that they would avoid triggering an immediate trial that could distract from the early days of the new Biden administration, he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
He said Democratic leadership was “working hard” on an article of impeachment demonstrating that Trump is “unqualified to be president.”
“That will come probably Tuesday and maybe Wednesday,” Clyburn said on “Fox News Sunday” when asked whether House Democrats will vote on impeachment this week.
Pelosi has called on Trump to resign over Wednesday’s violent storming of the Capitol, and raised the prospect of impeachment unless he leaves office immediately.
Five people died in the attack, including a police officer, after Trump supporters broke through security barriers and rampaged through the building, forcing lawmakers to evacuate while they were counting Electoral College votes.
Yet Pelosi is moving cautiously even as she faces pressure from her caucus to hold Trump accountable by impeaching him for a second time. President-elect Joe Biden has made it clear he wants the party to focus on his agenda and on fighting the coronavirus rather than pursuing another impeachment.
“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running, and maybe we’ll send the articles some time after that,” Clyburn said.
Pelosi has told lawmakers to be “prepared to return to Washington” this week, suggesting she’s considering impeachment or another formal response to Trump’s role encouraging his supporters who attacked the Capitol.
At least 200 House Democrats have signed on to one of the impeachment articles, and some Republicans have said they believe Trump conduct is impeachable, although they question how the process would play out with less than two weeks left in his term.
In a letter to fellow Democrats Saturday, Pelosi stopped short of saying she intended to move forward with impeachment or another process aimed at removing Trump from office before his term expires on Jan. 20, yet she insisted that he be held responsible.
“It is absolutely essential that those who perpetrated the assault on our democracy be held accountable,” she said in the letter. “There must be a recognition that this desecration was instigated by the president.”
A small group of House Republicans who opposed GOP objections to Biden’s Electoral College victory asked the president-elect to persuade Pelosi to back off impeaching Trump. The lawmakers, led by Representative Ken Buck of Colorado, warned in a Saturday letter to Biden that impeachment would inflame Trump’s supporters and damage the incoming president’s efforts to unify the country.
Pelosi said in her letter that she’ll continue to meet with lawmakers and Constitutional experts, but added, “I urge you to be prepared to return to Washington this week.”
For Democratic leaders there’s little risk in pressuring Trump’s cabinet and Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare the president incapable of governing. But impeachment would put the spotlight on Trump instead of on preparing for Biden’s incoming administration. It could also mean a Senate impeachment trial during the first days of Biden’s presidency, forcing the chamber to set aside other business, including confirming a new cabinet.
Biden, when asked Friday about impeaching Trump, said that was a judgment for Congress to make. But he also appeared to suggest tapping the brakes on such a politically fraught move when there’s only a dozen days until his inauguration.
“It’s important we get on with the business getting him out of office. The quickest way that that will happen is us being sworn in on the 20th,” Biden said at a news conference in Wilmington, Delaware. “I am focused now on us taking control as president and vice president on the 20th, and to get our agenda moving as quickly as we can.”
Article of Impeachment
A group of House Democrats plans to unveil on Monday an Article of Impeachment, according to Representative Ted Lieu of California.
“We will introduce the Article of Impeachment this Monday during the House’s pro forma session,” Lieu said on Twitter.
The text of the proposed impeachment resolution includes a single article accusing Trump of “Incitement of Insurrection” and says he engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States” in connection with the storming of the Capitol.
Any attempt to impeach Trump would be running up against the calendar as well as against divisions among Republicans over how to contain the president during his final days in office. The House would have just days to act before Biden’s inauguration, and it’s not clear that the Senate could move ahead with a trial within a week. Convicting Trump would require support from a significant number of GOP senators.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who’s stayed mum on any next steps regarding Trump, sent a memo to GOP senators late Friday outlining the timetable for any impeachment trial. It said that the Senate is in recess and it would require unanimous consent in the chamber to act on any impeachment trial before Jan. 19. A trial would not begin until Trump’s term expired and then would require the Senate to remain in session daily until a verdict is rendered.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.