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Democrats introduce bill to impeach Donald Trump over violence at US Capitol

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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer speaks to reporters after a resolution calling for the removal of President Trump from office was blocked by Republicans at the Capitol.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer speaks to reporters after a resolution calling for the removal of President Trump from office was blocked by Republicans at the Capitol.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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Democrats in the US House of Representatives formally introduced an article to impeach President Donald Trump after Republicans blocked a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke constitutional authority to remove him from office.

Democrats in the House were pushing Pence and the Cabinet to oust Trump, saying he is unfit for office after encouraging a protest march that turned into a mob that ransacked the US Capitol in a deadly siege.

Pence has given no indication he is ready to proceed on such a course, which would involve invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution, including a vote by a majority of the Cabinet to oust Trump before he leaves office on January 20 when Democratic President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in.

With just days left in Trump’s presidency, the House has now introduced an article of impeachment against Trump after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi failed to exert enough pressure on Republicans to tell Trump it’s time to go.

Trump would face a single charge — "incitement of insurrection" — over the riot at the US Capitol, according to the document.

The four-page impeachment bill draws from Trump's own false statements about his election defeat to Biden; his pressure on state officials in Georgia to "find" him more votes, and his White House rally ahead of the Capitol siege in which he encouraged thousands of supporters to "fight like hell" before they stormed the building on Wednesday.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the article mid-week.

'It's over'

During an interview on "60 Minutes" aired on Sunday, Pelosi invoked the Watergate era when Republicans in the Senate told President Richard Nixon, "t’s over".

"That’s what has to happen now," she said.

With impeachment planning intensifying, Toomey said he doubted impeachment could be done before Biden is inaugurated, even though a growing number of lawmakers say that step is necessary to ensure Trump can never hold elected office again.

“I think the president has disqualified himself from ever, certainly, serving in office again,” Toomey said. “I don’t think he is electable in any way.”

Republican Senator from Alaska Lisa Murkowski, long exasperated with the president, told the Anchorage Daily News on Friday that Trump simply "needs to get out". A third, Republican Senator Roy Blunt, did not go that far, but on Sunday he warned Trump to be "very careful" in his final days in office.

The Democrats' strategy would be to condemn the president's actions swiftly through a vote on impeachment but delay an impeachment trial in the Senate for 100 days. That would allow President-elect Joe Biden to focus on other priorities as soon as he is inaugurated January 20.

Congressman Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, and a top Biden ally, laid out the ideas on Sunday as the country came to grips with the siege at the Capitol by Trump loyalists trying to overturn the election results.

"Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running," Clyburn said.

Corporate America began to show its reaction to the Capitol riots by tying them to campaign contributions.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association's CEO and President Kim Keck said it will not contribute to those lawmakers — all Republicans — who supported challenges to Biden's Electoral College win. The group "will suspend contributions to those lawmakers who voted to undermine our democracy," Kim said.

Citigroup did not single out lawmakers aligned with Trump's effort to overturn the election, but said it would be pausing all federal political donations for the first three months of the year. Citi’s head of global government affairs, Candi Wolff, said in a Friday memo to employees, “We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said an impeachment trial could not begin under the current calendar before Inauguration Day, January 20.

'Divisive'

While many have criticised Trump, Republicans have said that impeachment would be divisive in a time of unity.

Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida, said that instead of coming together, Democrats want to "talk about ridiculous things like 'Let’s impeach a president'" with just days left in office.

Still, some Republicans might be supportive.

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said he would take a look at any articles that the House sent over. Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a frequent Trump critic, said he would "vote the right way" if the matter were put in front of him.

The Democratic effort to stamp Trump's presidential record — for the second time — with the indelible mark of impeachment had advanced rapidly since the riot.

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I, a leader of the House effort to draft impeachment articles accusing Trump of inciting insurrection, said Sunday that his group had 200-plus co-sponsors.

The articles, if passed by the House, could then be transmitted to the Senate for a trial, with senators acting as jurors to acquit or convict Trump. If convicted, Trump would be removed from office and succeeded by the vice president. It would be the first time a U.S. president had been impeached twice.

Potentially complicating Pelosi's decision about impeachment was what it meant for Biden and the beginning of his presidency. While reiterating that he had long viewed Trump as unfit for office, Biden on Friday sidestepped a question about impeachment, saying what Congress did “is for them to decide.”

A violent and largely white mob of Trump supporters overpowered police, broke through security lines and windows and rampaged through the Capitol on Wednesday, forcing lawmakers to scatter as they were finalizing Biden’s victory over Trump in the Electoral College.