Timetable for Trump's 2nd impeachment emerges in final countdown of divisive presidency

2021-01-11 13:58:43Xinhua Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

A timetable for proceedings in the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach outgoing President Donald Trump for a second time in just over a year has emerged in the final countdown of the Republican's divisive presidency.

The House may take up any articles of impeachment against Trump early this week, according to Majority Whip James Clyburn, a member of the House Democratic leadership. "It may be Tuesday or Wednesday before action is taken, but I think it will be taken this week," he said in an interview with CNN.

Clyburn made the remarks a day after House Democrats announced they plan to introduce one article of impeachment against Trump on Monday, seeking to remove the president from office for "incitement of insurrection" at the U.S. Capitol last week. Congressman David Cicilline from Rhode Island, who co-drafted the resolution, tweeted on Sunday that the document has so far had 210 co-sponsors.

In a letter to her colleagues on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a Democrat-led resolution will be brought forward to the lower chamber on Monday, which calls on Vice President Mike Pence to "convene and mobilize the Cabinet to active the 25th Amendment to declare the President incapable of executing the duties of his office," a move that allows Pence to immediately exercise powers as acting U.S. president.

"We are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours," the top congressional Democrat wrote. "Next, we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the Floor."

Should any articles of impeachment against Trump pass the House before he steps down later this month, Democrats, who have a majority in the lower chamber, might wait until after President-elect Joe Biden's first 100 days in office to send the legislation to the Senate for a trial, Clyburn said.

"It just so happens that if it didn't go over there for 100 days, it could -- 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 sometime after that," said the democrat from the South Carolina.

The U.S. Constitution provides that the House "shall have the sole Power of Impeachment" and that "the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments." Through the impeachment process, the U.S. Congress charges and then tries an official of the federal government for "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Conviction can only happen in the Senate and requires at least two-thirds of its members, or 67 senators, to vote in favor of at least one article of impeachment after a trial. The chamber could try the impeachment of an official after he or she leaves office, according to legal experts.

Some Democrats are concerned that the Senate trial of Trump's second impeachment, likely a time-consuming process, could stall confirmations of Biden's cabinet nominees by the evenly-divided upper chamber, as the politically polarized country is still trapped in the middle of the surging COVID-19 pandemic and economic hardship.

In Wilmington, Delaware, on Sunday, Biden ignored a shouted question asking him how disruptive the Senate trial of another Trump impeachment would be to his agenda.

The House, led by Democrats, impeached Trump in December 2019 after an inquiry triggered by a whistleblower complaint that raised concerns about the White House's interactions with Ukraine. The Republican-led Senate later acquitted the president, allowing him to continue holding office.

No U.S. president has ever been removed from office via impeachment by Congress, nor has the House impeached any president more than once.

A bid crowd of Trump's supporters overwhelmed police and violently breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 when Congress was certifying Biden's victory in the 2020 White House race. The chaos and violence forced a lockdown on the Capitol grounds and left five people dead, including a police officer, and dozens of others injured.

Trump addressed a rally outside the White House shortly before the deadly violence unfolded on Capitol Hill, urging his supporters to march toward the landmark to encourage Republican lawmakers to contest the Electoral College results, as he had refused to acknowledge their legitimacy with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

Trump is facing a strong storm of bipartisan criticism amid growing bipartisan calls for him to resign or to be removed from office immediately in the wake of the Capitol siege.

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican set to retire in 2022, told CNN on Sunday that he believes the sitting commander-in-chief should resign.

"I think at this point, with just a few days left, it's the best path forward, the best way to get this person in the rearview mirror for us that could happen immediately," Toomey said. "I'm not optimistic it will. But I think that would be the best way forward."

There are reportedly no plans for Trump to step down before Jan. 20, when his term ends and Biden is sworn in as the next president of the United States.

According to a poll conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News, 56 percent of Americans think Trump should be removed from office before the official transfer of power, while 43 percent say he should not. The issue split them along partisan lines, with 94 percent of Democrats and only 13 percent of Republicans supporting the move.

Trump will travel to Alamo, Texas, on Tuesday to "mark the completion of more than 400 miles" of U.S.-Mexico border wall, a signature of his immigration policy and a source of partisan tussle that contributed to the longest federal government shutdown in the history from late 2018 to early 2019.

On Jan. 7, the U.S. Congress affirmed the 2020 Electoral College votes, in which Biden won 306 versus 232 for Trump. It takes at least 270 electoral votes to win the White House. Biden also won the popular votes by 7 million and more than 4 percentage points.

After the congressional certification of Biden's victory, Trump acknowledged defeat and promised to ensure "a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power," while condemning the Capitol violence. 


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