House Democrats failed Monday in their first bid to punish President Trump after his supporters’ attack on the Capitol, but they plan to spend the rest of this week attempting to make him the first president ever to be impeached twice.
Rep. David Cicilline revealed the new impeachment resolution, accusing Mr. Trump of inciting an “insurrection” with his speech at a pro-Trump rally on the National Mall Wednesday. An hour after the president stepped off the stage, his supporters assaulted the nearby Capitol Building and temporarily derailed the counting of electoral votes confirming President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s victory.
The sole article of impeachment says Mr. Trump “willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol.”
Mr. Trump is slated to leave office Jan. 20, but Democrats say his departure must come sooner in order to prevent him from any more tests of the country’s fragile political order.
“This is urgent. This president represents a real danger to our democracy,” Mr. Cicilline told reporters.
Monday marked the first time that House lawmakers held a session since the tragedy of last week. They sat in the same chamber that police barricaded against the mob. One rioter was fatally shot in a corridor just outside the chamber.
In the opening session, House Chaplain Margaret G. Kibben pleaded for cooler heads.
“The seas of discontent were sown across our country, and we have reaped the whirlwind,” she said.
Republicans have urged Congress to move on and leave Mr. Trump to his final days in office content with the knowledge that he will soon depart. They say any move to oust him early will only deepen the divisions in the country.
Democrats, though, say the president, and perhaps Republicans in Congress, must pay for the unprecedented assault on the Capitol.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said she prefers to have Mr. Trump ousted by Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet under provisions of the 25th Amendment, which govern a president who is deemed unable to serve.
To that end, Democrats tried to pass a resolution Monday urging Mr. Pence to trigger the move. Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, asked for consent to force it through the chamber. Rep. Alex Mooney, West Virginia Republican, objected.
“The U.S. House must never adopt a resolution that demands the removal of a duly elected president, without hearings, debate or recorded votes,” Mr. Mooney said in a statement afterward.
The delay is temporary.
Democrats plan to rush the nonbinding resolution back to the floor Tuesday under regular procedures, where all it will take is a majority vote. Mrs. Pelosi has said she will give Mr. Pence 24 hours to take action before the House attempts another impeachment.
Even if Mr. Pence flexes the amendment, Mr. Trump could contest that move and the matter would go to Congress. It would take a two-thirds vote of each chamber to oust the president.
That is a higher bar than impeachment, which takes only a majority vote in the House, though conviction in the Senate requires a two-thirds majority.
Two previous White House occupants, President Andrew Johnson and President Bill Clinton, were impeached, but neither was convicted.
House Democrats say they are certain to have a majority backing impeachment again, which would make Mr. Trump the first person to be impeached twice.
Senators are out of town and not scheduled to return for regular session until Jan. 19, a day before the transfer of power.
That severely dents Democrats’ hopes of ousting the president, though it hasn’t lessened their determination to punish him nonetheless.
House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat, suggested over the weekend that the House might pass but then hold on to the impeachment resolution for several months, giving Mr. Biden a honeymoon period to pursue his agenda free from distractions.
But Mr. Hoyer and other Democrats said Monday that they want to send the measure to the Senate immediately, hoping to capitalize on growing anger at Mr. Trump.
A poll by Quinnipiac University found Mr. Trump’s approval rating at 33%, the lowest ranking of his tenure and tied with August 2017 in the wake of the race-fueled clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.
A slight majority in the poll said Mr. Trump should be ousted before Jan. 20.
Mr. Biden told reporters Monday that he wants the Senate to work on impeachment while working on his agenda.
Some Democrats said there are open questions about whether a president out of office can be impeached.
One more immediate punishment is a censure, which Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s nonvoting member of Congress, said she was introducing Monday.
Even as the debate centered on Mr. Trump’s fate, Democrats are eyeing punishment for Republicans in the Senate who led the objections to counting some states in last week’s electoral tally.
Chief targets are Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri.
House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat, told SiriusXM’s “Joe Madison Show” that the two senators could be added to the no-fly list, along with Rep. Lauren Boebert, Colorado Republican, who Democrats say created a threat to Mrs. Pelosi by posting on Twitter after the speaker was rushed out of the chamber during the attack.
“A terrorist is a terrorist, no matter who you are,” Mr. Thompson said.
Some Democrats said they are pondering censures or even expulsion for lawmakers whom they deem complicit in the events of last week.
Also during Monday’s House session, acting Speaker Debbie Dingell, Michigan Democrat, formally accepted the resignation of Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, who was ousted in the wake of the attack, and swore in Timothy Blodgett, his deputy, as his replacement.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.