Washington (AP) – A week after his supporters stormed the Capitol, US President Donald Trump must fear a conviction in the impeachment process in the Senate.
The House of Representatives, dominated by the Democrats, wanted to decide on Wednesday (local time) to open impeachment proceedings accusing Trump of “inciting insurrection.” The trial itself then takes place in the Senate. In all likelihood, a decision in this chamber will not take place until the new president Joe Biden is sworn in next Wednesday.
During the meeting in the House of Representatives, President Nancy Pelosi described Trump as a “danger to the country.” The Republican had incited “domestic terrorists” to fight back against his election defeat, she said. “You didn’t come out of a vacuum.” Trump was guilty of “provoking a riot”. He must be held responsible for this.
Even the Republican minority leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, said, “The president is not without guilt. The president is responsible for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by a riotous mob. “But it is wrong to remove him from office through an expedited procedure in the final days of his tenure. Accusation of the Republican would further increase political divisions in the country,” he warned.
A majority in the House of Representatives to open impeachment proceedings was considered certain. Individual Republicans also announced that they would vote to remove their party colleagues from office. Trump’s tenure will automatically end on January 20 when Biden is sworn in. The proceedings are unlikely to be completed by then. For the Democrats in Congress, the accusation is also about banning Trump from future government buildings. This would mean that he would not be able to run for president in 2024.
The trial – which is similar to court proceedings – is being conducted in the Senate, which will not meet until January 19 for its next session. A two-thirds majority in this chamber would be needed to condemn Trump. To do this, more than a dozen Republican senators would have to side with the Democrats. Individual Republicans in the Senate have openly opposed Trump, but have not yet said yes to impeachment.
Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, told CNN that there could be a political “earthquake” in the Senate that could lead to a majority to impeach. Schiff was referring to a report in the New York Times in which the leading Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, indicated internally that he felt the removal was justified. Citing unspecified sources from the McConnell area, the paper wrote that McConnell was pleased that the Democrats had initiated an impeachment process. That could make it easier for his party to break away from Trump.
Trump is likely to become the first US president in history to open two impeachment proceedings. In a first trial he had to answer for, among other things, abuse of power in the so-called Ukraine affair. He was eventually acquitted in the Republican-dominated Senate.
Trump called for nonviolence ahead of possible new protests at Biden’s swearing-in ceremony. “Given the reports of further demonstrations, I demand that there be no violence, no violations of law and no vandalism of any kind,” said a White House report. “That’s not what I stand for, and that’s not what America stands for either. I urge all Americans to ease tension and calm their hearts. “
According to media reports, the FBI has warned the federal police that there could be further violent protests surrounding the Democrat swearing-in. Until Biden’s inauguration at the Capitol, up to 15,000 National Guard soldiers will be deployed to support the rest of the security forces.
The Democrats had also tried this week to secure Trump’s immediate resignation through a constitutional amendment. Article 25 allows the President to be declared incapable of “exercising the rights and duties of office”. Vice President Mike Pence, who should have initiated this along with members of the cabinet, officially rejected such a move on Tuesday evening (local time). Pence said it was not in the interest of the nation or in accordance with the constitution and would set “a terrible precedent.”
In an exceptional political statement, the General Staff of the United States Armed Forces condemned the storming of the Capitol. “Freedom of expression and assembly give no one the right to violence, insurrection and insurrection,” wrote US Chief of Staff Mark Milley and his colleagues from the US military leadership. Any act directed against the constitutional processes is “not only against our traditions, values and our oath – it is against the law”. The General Staff reminded the military that they had an obligation to comply with the law and defend the constitution.
Trump had summoned his supporters at a rally last Wednesday that the election victory had been stolen from him. Angry Trump supporters then broke into the Capitol during a session of Congress and wreaked havoc and destruction. Five people were killed, including a police officer. The unprecedented outbreak of violence in the political center of the United States caused shock waves around the world.
Trump on Tuesday criticized the impeachment process as a continuation of a political “witch hunt.” Referring to his speech just before the outbreak of violence, he said, “It has been analyzed and people felt that what I said was perfectly appropriate.”
On Tuesday, individual Republican MPs also announced they would vote to impeach. Among them: senior Republican MP Liz Cheney, daughter of former US Vice President Dick Cheney. Trump had gathered the “crowd” that stormed the Capitol and provoked the attack, she said. There has never been a “greater treason” by a president of his office and oath to the constitution.