Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather near the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Jan. 6, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]
U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly admitted Monday that he bore some blame for the riot on Capitol Hill, an acknowledgement that came the same day when House Democrats took their first step to impeach the president for a second time during his presidency.
Multiple U.S. media reported the news, citing a conversation between the president and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and a conference call where the California GOP congressman informed House Republicans.
GOP strategies countering impeachment
Prior to the conference call, McCarthy, one of Trump's staunchest allies, sent a letter to House Republicans saying he was against impeaching the president.
"Personally, I continue to believe that an impeachment at this time would have the opposite effect of bringing our country together when we need to get America back on a path towards unity and civility," the Republican leader said.
McCarthy outlined four alternative options he said would ensure that what happened on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 is "rightfully denounced and prevented from occurring in the future."
The measures include "a resolution of censure under the rules of the House," "a bipartisan commission to investigate the circumstances surrounding the attack," "reforming the Electoral Count Act of 1887," and "legislation to promote voter confidence in future federal elections."
GOP congressman Tom Reed of New York wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times that House Republicans will introduce a resolution on Tuesday to censure Trump. "We must also look at alternatives that could allow Congress to bar Mr. Trump from holding federal office in the future," he added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, told House Democrats in a phone call Monday that censuring the president is "an abdication," and that she would not consider that option, CNN reported, citing people familiar.
Trump, whose social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have all been locked following the Capitol unrest, spoke Monday with Vice President Mike Pence for the first time since Pence presided over Congress's joint session and fulfilled his constitutional duty to certify Biden's election victory, despite being pressured by Trump not to do so, according to CNN.
"They reiterated that those who broke the law and stormed the Capitol last week do not represent the America First movement backed by 75 million Americans, and pledged to continue the work on behalf of the country for the remainder of their term," the network quoted a senior official as saying when describing the Trump-Pence conversation in the Oval Office.
Democrats resolved to impeach Trump
House Democrats on Monday formally introduced an article of impeachment against Trump, taking the first step to impeach the president for a second time during his presidency.
The single article of impeachment, contained in a resolution introduced when the House gaveled into a pro-forma session, charged the president with "incitement of insurrection," pointing to his repeated false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.
Those claims and a speech Trump delivered to supporters in Washington incited a group of rioters to breach the Capitol as Congress convened a joint session to certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the election, the resolution said.
The resolution also cited Trump's phone call on Jan. 2 with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the president urged the secretary to find enough votes to overturn the election results in the state, as one of a series of efforts by the president to subvert and obstruct the certification of the election results.
"In all this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government," the resolution said. "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."
Citing the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the resolution noted that the law "prohibits any person who has 'engaged in insurrection or rebellion against' the United States" from holding office.
Calling Trump "a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office," the resolution said the president "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."
Resolved to impeach Trump for a second time after they did so in December 2019, House Democrats are expected to expedite the impeachment process by holding a floor vote on the resolution Wednesday.
Before unveiling the impeachment resolution, House Democrats sought to pass a separate, nonbinding resolution through unanimous consent asking Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution with a majority of Trump administration cabinet members to remove the president from office.
That effort was shot down by Republicans in the chamber. As a result, Democrats are holding a floor vote on Tuesday on the resolution requesting the direct removal of the president absent the impeachment and the subsequent Senate trial.
Pence, who initially inclined not to invoke the 25th Amendment but, per a more recent CNN report, hasn't ruled out that possibility, was given 24 hours to respond to the resolution, or the impeachment will proceed.
What lies ahead
The introduction of the impeachment resolution came not only as calls for Trump to resign or be forced out grew among a majority of Democrats and some Republicans following the violent intrusion of the Capitol, but also at a time when Trump has merely 10 days left as the occupant of the White House.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that while the House is poised to impeach Trump this week, Democrats may wait until after the 100th day since Biden assumes office to deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial.
Such a tactic is aimed at not letting the trial complicate congressional proceedings of the incoming president's policy agenda, including Senate confirmations of the president-elect's nominations for key administration posts. Biden's inauguration is scheduled for Jan. 20.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a memo circulated among Republicans last week that he would not call the Senate -- now in recess -- back in session before Jan. 19, meaning that the earliest possible time for the chamber to conduct the impeachment trial is on Biden's inauguration day.
If that were to happen, Trump would be the first U.S. president in history to be tried on impeachment charges after stepping down.
Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said he didn't see "any constitutional problem with the Senate acting fast or slowly," suggesting that for a former president to be tried in an impeachment trial doesn't violate the Constitution.