The House of Representatives is moving toward the second impeachment of Donald Trump and consensus has emerged among leadership that they need to do it fast. They now have the 218 votes needed to get it done, though the week’s proceedings could be complicated by the COVID-19 infections that resulting from the Jan. 6 attack, when many Republicans refused to wear masks to protect the colleagues they were sheltering with. If anything slows this effort down at this point, it will be the pandemic.
On Monday, leaders got the ball rolling when Majority Leader Steny Hoyer attempted to get unanimous consent for the House to pass a resolution demanding Vice President Mike Pence invoke the 25th Amendment to strip power from Trump. A West Virginia Republican objected, though it’s worth noting he did so based on process rather than substantive grounds. There might be a dawning realization among at least some of them that they can’t publicly defend what happened. At this point, the plan is for them to formally introduce and pass that same resolution Tuesday, giving Pence 24 hours to respond before moving to an impeachment vote Wednesday. But there might be momentum to move that timeline up.
Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat who has taken the lead in getting signatures on the impeachment resolution, told The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, “The whole reason for moving forward is the fact that every single minute this person stays in the White House presents a clear and present danger to our democracy. […] Most House Democrats believe he should be removed as quickly as possible.” He argued against Rep. James Clyburn’s suggestion that the House wait until President-elect Joe Biden’s first 100 days are done before sending the resolution over to the Senate.
“This is an attack unlike we’ve ever seen on the very foundations of our democracy,” Cicilline told Sargent. “The American people saw this playing out in real time, and the visuals were so powerful that I think there’s growing pressure on the Republicans to do something.” He’s backed by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and by Rep. Adam Schiff, who told CBS News, “If we impeach him this week […] it should immediately be transmitted to the Senate and we should try the case as soon as possible. […] Mitch McConnell has demonstrated when it comes to jamming Supreme Court justices through the Congress, he can move with great alacrity when he wants to.”
That’s arguing that there’s a possibility of pressuring Senate Majority Leader McConnell, which is not impossible but unlikely. The only public comment McConnell has given following Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol—on his own institution—and Trump’s incitement of insurrection is a memo sent Friday to Senate Republicans saying the earliest the Senate could act is Jan. 19, one day before the inauguration. That’s not actually true, as Schiff says. If McConnell wanted to bring the Senate back, he could.
With the FBI warning of further domestic terrorism and violence over the next week and during planned Jan. 17 rallies in D.C. and state capitals, there might be an awakening among Senate Republicans that they’ve got to do something. It’s not a safe bet, but three Senate Republicans—Pat Toomey, Lisa Murkowski, and Ben Sasse—have said Trump has to go. Toomey and Sasse say they would consider articles of impeachment, but they’re not sure there’s enough time, and Murkowski wants him to resign.
There’s another call Monday among House Democrats that could speed up Pelosi’s timeline. The momentum to act grows by the minute, at least among House members.
It’s official. The 25th Amendment vote will be Tuesday, impeachment Wednesday.