Lawmakers seek Trump impeachment, removal from office for inciting insurrection

Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana via CN))

WASHINGTON (CN) — A group of U.S. lawmakers formally introduced articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Thursday following his incitement of followers who ultimately laid siege to the U.S. Capitol.

Sponsored by Democrat Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, the resolution calls for Trump to be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The lawmakers take aim at Trump’s encouragement of the insurgents who took over the capitol for hours, just after lawmakers began to count the votes from the Electoral College that certified Joe Biden’s election.

In doing so, Omar and others contend, Trump failed to faithfully executive his sworn oath to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.

Trump began what would become his single term in the White House with a descent down a golden escalator. Now, as the final days of his administration have wrought deadly calamity inside of the U.S. Capitol, he also faces threat of a prompt removal by way of the 25th Amendment.

“Shortly before the Joint Session commenced, President Trump addressed a crowd of his political supporters nearby. There, he reiterated false claims that ‘we won this election, and we won it by a landslide.’ He also willfully made statements that encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — imminent lawless action at the Capitol,” the newly introduced impeachment articles state.

Trump in a rollicking speech ahead of the count had proclaimed: “We will never give up, we will never concede.”

Calls for Trump’s impeachment and removal bubbled up overnight after the world witnessed a day of carnage in the U.S. Capitol where four people died after a Trump rally devolved into a siege by a faction of the president’s most extreme supporters, many sporting the campaign’s signature MAGA hat or other garb. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called Thursday for Congress to act and immediately remove Donald Trump from the White House.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi echoed the call for Vice President Pence to immediately invoke the 25th Amendment. A California Democrat, Pelosi said members of Trump’s Cabinet, including longtime allies like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, must help Pence begin a sequence that could see Trump out of office in the next two weeks.

“Do you subscribe to the presidency of Donald Trump, the act of sedition he committed yesterday?” Pelosi said, speaking to both men as she rattled down a list of other department or administration heads who would need to come forward to help employ the 25th Amendment. 

“While there are only 13 days left, any day could be a horror show for America,” the speaker said.

Edward B. Foley, professor of law at Ohio State University, said during a call with the National Taskforce on Election Crises on Thursday that the urgency to remove Trump is one with which legislators must sincerely wrestle if they think there is a significant risk of “malevolence or derangement” in the president.

“I hate to use that word about a sitting president. But if you look at the conduct of the last week or so, with the combination of a phone call caught on tape and yesterday’s behavior, as well as a complete denial of reality with respect to the electoral process for several months now… the president has undergone some kind of electoral psychosis or delusion,” he said.

More than 100 members of the House and at least nine members of the Senate have thrown support behind the move, though impeachment is an unlikely prospect with many Senate Republicans still supporting Trump’s presidency and time running fast toward inauguration.

Representative Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, has said he wants to see Trump removed.

“The president has become unmoored, not just from his duty or even his oath, but from reality,” Kinzinger said in a video statement Thursday. “It is for this reason I call on the vice president and members of the Cabinet to ensure the next few weeks are safe for the American people, and that we have a sane captain at the ship.”

Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., cleans up debris and personal belongings strewn across the floor of the Rotunda in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, after protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik via CN)

Attorney General William Barr, who announced his resignation last month, likewise was critical of the insurrection at the Capitol. “Orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable,” he said, in remarks first obtained Thursday by Politico. “The president’s conduct yesterday was a betrayal of his office and supporters.”

While the outgoing attorney general had been a close ally to Trump over the years, that relationship appeared to sour with his declaration that the 2020 election was free of fraud.

Schumer said Thursday that the quickest way to remove Trump would be to “immediately invoke the 25th Amendment.”

“If the vice president and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president,” the New York Democrat said.

Quick is not exactly synonymous with the gridlock plaguing a Congress whose divisions have become entrenched for four years, having failed before to overcome strongholds of support for Trump within the Republican Party.

Under Section IV of the 25th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, if the vice president and a majority of the president’s Cabinet agree that the president is unable to discharge his duties, they must immediately transmit this to the president pro tempore of the Senate, Chuck Grassley, and to the speaker of the House.

Pence would immediately assume the powers of acting president at that time. Trump then has the option to contest the choice for up to four days. Pence would then need to redeclare it and remain in the acting role until Congress casts a vote. Lawmakers would be permitted up to two days of debate and then would have up to 21 days to vote to invoke the 25th.

Two-thirds of the House and Senate would need to unify to successfully enforce this check and balance against the executive branch.

Trump only conceded this morning that there will be a peaceful transition of power on Jan. 20 when Joe Biden is inaugurated as 46th president of the United States.

That admission comes more than a month since the nation voted to replace Trump with Biden, who served two terms as vice president to Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, and more than three decades as a senator. Biden won the 2020 popular election by more than 7 million votes.

A real estate mogul, a reality television host, and a seeming political uninitiate who early on helped fan flames of birtherism online that still hounds Obama to some extent, Trump said through social media director Dan Scavino in a Twitter post early Thursday morning: “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”

In the meantime, it is unlikely people will hear from Trump directly on the social media site anytime soon.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced this morning that Trump would be blocked from using the platform through at least the Biden inauguration.

Trump posted inflammatory disinformation on Twitter as the Capitol was attacked Wednesday, and even after staffers and elected duly lawmakers were forced into lock down before being moved to secure location.

The Facebook honcho said Thursday he believed the risk Trump poses with his posts “during this period are simply too great.”

“Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete,” Zuckerberg said.

Trump is not the only one facing a comeuppance over Wednesday’s historic violence. 

A new member of the House of Representatives, Cori Bush launched a push on Thursday to remove all eight senators and 139 members of the House who voted to object to Biden’s certification.

Bush, a Missouri Democrat, was recently appointed to the powerful House Judiciary Committee. The House Judiciary Committee has called for Trump’s removal as well.

Her resolution says the lawmakers who voted to object assisted Trump in his incitement of a “domestic terrorist attack through their attempts to overturn the election.”

As the nation and world roused to a new day hurtling inevitably away from one administration to another, and fencing is now being erected around the U.S. Capitol, disavowals and distancing from the White House are underway.

Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announced his resignation on national television Thursday, telling CNBC: “I just can’t.”

“I can’t stay,” Mulvaney continued. “Those who chose to stay, I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might someone worse in.”

Mulvaney, who has served in many roles under Trump and was one of his most obstinate defenders during the president’s impeachment by the House for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power, is resigning from the post of special U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland. 

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao also announced her resignation, Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said Thursday she was “deeply troubled” in a way she could not set aside following the attack on the Capitol.

“Yesterday our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the president stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed,” Chao said.

Like so much glass only just broken beyond the walls of the White House by rioters, the Trump administration’s team is shattered and fragmented too: Trump’s presidential advisers, Matthew Pottinger, resigned amid the unrest. Pottinger also served as deputy national security adviser. 

Tyler Goodspeed, acting chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, also resigned on Thursday, amid multiple reports that deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell and national security adviser Robert O’Brien may resign as well.

First lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham has already relinquished her post, and Sarah Whites, the White House deputy press secretary, followed suit.