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Democrats in push to impeach Trump before he departs

Incitement of insurrection’ charge following riot


President-elect Joe Biden (Susan Walsh/AP)

President-elect Joe Biden (Susan Walsh/AP)

President-elect Joe Biden (Susan Walsh/AP)

Plans to impeach President Donald Trump from office are gathering pace with the House of Representatives warning he is a threat to US democracy – and pressing Vice President Mike Pence to act.

Mr Trump faces a single charge – “incitement of insurrection” – after the deadly Capitol riot in an impeachment resolution the House will begin debating today.

At the same time, the FBI warned ominously of potential armed protests in Washington and many states by Trump loyalists ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. In a dark foreshadowing, the Washington Monument was closed to the public amid the threats of disruption. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf abruptly resigned.

Democrats and a growing number of Republicans declare Mr Trump is unfit for office and could do more damage after inciting the mob that violently ransacked the Capitol last Wednesday.

“President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government,” reads the four-page impeachment bill.

“He will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is summoning members of Congress back to Washington for votes – and Democrats aren’t the only ones who say Mr Trump needs to go.

Republican senators Pat Toomey and Lisa Murkowski called for Mr Trump to “go away as soon as possible”.

Liz Cheney encouraged her Republican colleagues in the House to “vote your conscience”. She has spoken critically of Mr Trump’s actions but has not said publicly how she will vote.

Pending impeachment, Democrats also called on Mr Pence and the cabinet to invoke their constitutional authority under the 25th Amendment to remove Mr Trump from office before inauguration day.

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Ms Pelosi said Mr Pence will have 24 hours to respond. Next would be the impeachment proceedings.

The vice-president has given no indication he is ready to invoke the 25th Amendment.

He met Mr Trump late on Monday for the first time since the Capitol attack, a senior administration official said.

Mr Trump and Mr Pence had a “good conversation” in the Oval Office discussing the week ahead and they pledged to continue working for the remainder of their terms.

No member of the Cabinet has publicly called for Mr Trump to be removed from office through the 25th Amendment.

As security tightened, Mr Biden said he was “not afraid” of taking the oath of office outside, as is traditionally done at the Capitol’s west steps, one of the areas where people stormed the building.

As for the rioters, Mr Biden said, “It is critically important that there’ll be a real serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage – that they be held accountable.”

Mr Biden said he has had conversations with senators ahead of a possible impeachment trial, which some have worried would cloud the opening days of his administration.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer was exploring ways to immediately convene the Senate for the trial as soon as the House acts, though Republican leader Mitch McConnell would need to agree.

The president-elect suggested splitting the Senate’s time, perhaps “go a half day on dealing with impeachment, a half day on getting my people nominated and confirmed in the Senate, as well as moving on the package” for more Covid relief.

As Congress briefly resumed on Monday, an uneasiness swept government. More politicians tested positive for Covid-19 after sheltering during the siege.

New security officials were installed after the Capitol police chief and others were sacked. Some Republicans, including Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, faced a public backlash for their efforts on the day of the riot for trying to overturn Mr Biden’s election.

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