Donald Trump's impeachment over Capitol riots set to begin tomorrow

Donald Trump will see articles of impeachment introduced against him on Monday, as moves to remove the US President from office continue. 

Democrat-led efforts to impeach the incumbent just days before Joe Biden takes over gained momentum over the weekend, although it is far from certain that enough Republicans will back the move for it to be successful.

Calls for Vice President Mike Pence and Mr Trump’s Cabinet to oust him using the 25th amendment have so far been ignored, following the violent scenes in Washington on Wednesday. There are also fears that the ‘unstable’ President could launch a nuclear attack before he leaves the White House.

That leaves Democrats from the House of Representatives looking to urgently begin impeachment proceedings against Mr Trump for a second time, after he encouraged his supporters to storm the US Capitol.

California Democrat Representative Ted Lieu, who helped draft the charges, said that the articles of impeachment had drawn 190 co-sponsors by Saturday night. But, as of Saturday afternoon, no Republicans had signed on, Mr Lieu’s spokeswoman said.

He tweeted: ‘We have videos of the speech where (Trump) incites the mob. We have videos of the mob violently attacking the Capitol. This isn’t a close call.’

Mr Trump initially praised his supporters at the Capitol but later condemned their violence in a video. The decision to call for calm came after senior aides urged him to act, with some arguing he could face removal from office or legal liability, sources told Reuters.

The President told the rioters ‘we love you’ while telling them to leave during an incident which left five people dead, including a police officer. Mr Trump has since been banned from various social media sites.

Impeachment by the Democratic-led House, equivalent to an indictment, would trigger an unprecedented second trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, which cleared him during his first trial over allegations that he threatened national security.

Two previous presidents were impeached but also acquitted in the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 over the Watergate scandal when it became clear he would be removed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also asked members to draft legislation aimed at invoking the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which allows for stripping the powers from a president unable to fulfil the duties of the office.

The intensifying effort to oust Mr Trump has drawn limited support from Republicans, whose party has been divided by the president’s actions.

CNN reported on Saturday that the Vice President had not ruled out invoking the 25th Amendment, citing a source close to him. It added that some in Mr Pence’s team worried any effort to remove Trump could provoke the president to more rash behaviour that might put the country at risk.

A small but growing number of Republican lawmakers have joined calls for Trump to step down, and several high-ranking administration officials have resigned in protest.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said on Friday that the President should resign immediately and suggested she would consider leaving the party if Republicans cannot part from him.

Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey told Fox News on Saturday that Mr Trump had ‘committed impeachable offenses’, but declined to commit to voting to remove him.

Frequent Trump critic Senator Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, told CBS News he would ‘definitely consider’ impeachment because the president ‘disregarded his oath of office.’

But other key Trump allies, including Senator Lindsey Graham and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, have urged Democrats to shelve any impeachment effort in the name of unity. 

White House spokesman Judd Deere said: ‘Impeaching President Donald Trump with 12 days remaining in his presidency would only serve to further divide the country.’

Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, has suggested any trial would likely occur after Trump’s term ends, when Democrats will take control of the Senate thanks to victories in two Georgia runoff elections last week.

If found guilty after leaving office, Trump would still lose benefits enjoyed by ex-presidents, such as security and pension, and he would be barred from running for a second term.

Democrats say they move would also set a precedent to future Presidents who might consider similar behaviour to the incumbent. 

But a Senate conviction requires a two-third majority, which would take at least 17 Republican votes.

Democrat President-elect Joe Biden has not taken a position on Trump’s impeachment, saying he will leave it to Congress to decide. 

Since losing the November 3 election, Trump has baselessly claimed he was the victim of widespread fraud.

US Capitol riots

A large group of Donald Trump supporters have stormed the US Capitol building to try and stop Joe Biden being certified as the next president.

Here are some of the main updates from the evening of January 6:

  • Trump supporters storm US Capitol to try and stop Joe Biden being named next president
  • Donald Trump sends self-pitying video asking ‘very special’ protesters to ‘go home’
  • US representatives draw up plans to impeach and oust Donald Trump
  • Cardi B, Mark Ruffalo and Piers Morgan lead stars blasting pro-Trump protesters for storming US Capitol
  • Four dead in US Capitol riots as woman shot dead by police is named
  • Mike Pence formally declares Joe Biden as next president after Capitol riots
  • Donald Trump refuses to accept he’s a loser but offers ‘orderly transition’

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