The article of impeachment introduced into the House on Monday accuses Trump of abuse of power and charges him with “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
On Monday, January 11, for the second time in two years, Democrats in the United States House of Representatives introduced an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump. The article accuses Trump of abuse of power as related to an “incitement of insurrection.”
The House Democrats are responding to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by Trump supporters and far-right extremists that resulted in one police officer’s death and vast damage to the Congressional offices.
Trump has been accused of goading his supporters into the attack, including through a video posted to social media in which he told the mob that “we love you, you’re very special.” In that video, which was taken down by Twitter and Facebook, Trump tells his supporters to go home, but not until after he reiterates the false claim that the election was stolen from him.
Trump was subsequently locked out of his social media accounts as cries for his removal from office have grown louder. Hundreds of Democrats, as well as business leaders and former Republican officials, have urged Vice President Mike Pence and the presidential cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution to remove him.
In introducing the latest article of impeachment, the 200 Democratic co-sponsors also called for a vote on a measure to compel Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. Though the measure passed, Pence is unlikely to act on it as he has already signaled his unwillingness to remove Trump.
Regardless, the Democrats will officially vote on the article of impeachment on Wednesday, January 13. It is almost certain to pass as articles of impeachment only require a “simple majority” to be approved and the Democrats currently have 222 Representatives, compared to 211 Republicans.
If approved, Trump will become the first president in US history to have been impeached twice.
What does the article of impeachment say?
The article of impeachment introduced into the House on Monday accuses Trump of abuse of power and charges him with “high crimes and misdemeanors”:
“In his conduct while President of the United States–and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed–Donald John Trump engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”
The impeachment article details the events of January 6, on which both chambers of Congress and Pence convened to officially certify the electoral college victory of President-elect Joe Biden. On that same day, Trump appeared at a rally before supporters who had gathered in Washington, DC to protest the certification on the grounds that they believed the election had been stolen from Trump.
During the rally, the article of impeachment explains, the president “reiterated false claims that ‘we won this election, and we won it by a landslide’. He also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged–and foreseeably resulted in–lawless action at the Capitol.” The article continues:
“Incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.”
The article also cites Trump’s recent call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which the president urged the state election officials, many of whom were Republicans, to “find” votes so that he – not Biden – would win the state. Raffensperger refused to comply, instead leaking the call to The Washington Post.
“In all this,” the article adds, “President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government. He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”
The article of impeachment concludes by stating Trump “has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. Donald John Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”
Trump’s previous impeachment
In December 2019, the House passed two articles of impeachment against Trump, the first for abuse of power and the second for obstruction of congress.
Trump was impeached after his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was leaked. On the call, Trump could be heard apparently pressuring Zelensky to publicly open an investigation into Biden. Trump was accused of withholding aid to Ukraine in order to damage a potential political rival. He was further accused of seeking to obstruct Congress’ investigation of the call.
The Senate oversaw the impeachment trial of Trump. Per the rules set out by the Republican-controlled Senate, each side was given only three days to present their case and no witnesses were permitted to testify.
After less than two weeks, the trial concluded and the Senate voted on whether or not to remove Trump from office. As had been expected, the president was acquitted. However, Trump became the first president to have a member of his own party – Senator Mitt Romney – vote for his removal.
If the House does pass the most recent article of impeachment, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi can choose to hold onto the article until the next Senate is seated. At that point, Democrats will control the chamber and the Senate majority leader – likely to be current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer – would set the rules for the impeachment trial.
If that happens, the Senate will not be voting on whether to remove Trump from office (he will already be out), but they could vote to bar Trump from ever holding federal office again. While it would take a two-thirds vote for the Senate to convict Trump, a subsequent majority vote is all that would be required to prevent him from running for president again, as he has suggested he might do.
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