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Politics

In Wake Of Capitol Attack, House Begins Moves To Impeach Trump — Again

Speaking to reporters Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., calls for the removal of President Trump from office.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., calls for the removal of President Trump from office.

Updated 5:45 p.m. ET

With nine days left before President Trump's term comes to an end, the House of Representatives is forging ahead with plans to try to remove the president from office over his role in his supporters' violent attack last week on the U.S. Capitol.

On Monday, House Democrats filed an impeachment resolution charging Trump with inciting an insurrection. A vote is expected this week, likely on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the House is also moving forward with a resolution calling on Vice President Pence to invoke the Constitution's 25th Amendment, relieving Trump of his duties until his term ends next week.

Timing on the Senate side on impeachment is more uncertain, but a senior Democratic aide told NPR that Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is exploring options for getting the chamber to act sooner.

25th Amendment resolution

During a pro forma session Monday morning, House Democrats attempted to pass the 25th Amendment measure by unanimous consent. But unanimous consent only works if there is no objection, and as expected, a Republican did object: Rep. Alex Mooney of West Virginia.

On Sunday, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., suggested it could be months before the impeachment measure, should it pass, is sent to the Senate — a move that would enable the upper chamber to begin acting on President-elect Joe Biden's early legislative agenda and confirm his Cabinet nominees before undertaking a trial.

On Monday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the No. 2 Democrat in the House, told reporters on Capitol Hill that he would like to send the impeachment measure to the Senate as soon as possible, although ultimately that decision rests with Pelosi.

Given the timeline and required action from the Senate, removing Trump from office before Jan. 20 is unlikely — if not impossible. However, Schumer is looking into using emergency authority that would let him and Republican leader Mitch McConnell call the Senate back early for a trial, a senior Democratic aide says.

Even if the Senate does not vote to remove Trump before he is scheduled to leave office anyway, the narrowly divided chamber could also seek to bar him from holding office in the future.

White House spokesman Judd Deere has called the impeachment effort "politically motivated" and said it would "only serve to further divide our great country."

Biden responds

Biden was asked about impeachment on Monday and said his first priority is to pass another stimulus bill. He shared he had spoken earlier in the day with senators, who discussed the possibility of splitting days between an impeachment trial and confirming Biden's nominees and passing more economic relief.

Asked if Trump engaged in sedition, Biden replied: "I've been clear that President Trump should not be in office. Period."

On Friday, Biden had said the decision whether to pursue impeachment was Congress' to make.

Trump's actions prompted immediate calls for his removal from both political opponents and some Republicans once considered allies. But even those who criticize Trump are not in agreement over whether impeachment is the best approach.

GOP Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota told NPR's Rachel Martin that while he believes Trump "deserves a greater than average share of the blame" for the rioting at the Capitol, he also puts the blame on the political rhetoric in the country that he says has built up over a long time.

"[We should ask] in this moment, what is the right thing to do for the country? And it may well be that impeachment could create far more division, and that a different accountability mechanism would be more appropriate."

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