House Democrats on Monday formally introduced an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the violent riot at the US Capitol last week, which sought to overturn the 2020 election results confirming Joe Biden as the nation’s next president. The insurrection failed and Biden’s presidency was confirmed by the Senate.
The article of impeachment, which has more than 200 House co-sponsors, comes as Republicans on Monday blocked a measure calling for Vice President Mike Pence to remove Trump under the , pushing it instead to a full vote in the House. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday said the next step will be bringing impeachment legislation to the floor.
The House could vote on the article of impeachment as early as Wednesday.
Hours after the deadly riot on Jan. 6, Trump tweeted, “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!” Twitter blocked the tweet on Friday and . In the tweet, Trump made false claims about the presidential election and suggested that those who stormed the Capitol were “patriots.”
“The President continues to pose a clear and present danger to the people and our Republic,” tweeted Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, who co-authored the article, along with fellow Democratic Reps. David Cicilline and Ted Lieu. “He incited an insurrectionist mob to join a ‘wild’ disruption of the peaceful transfer of power at the Capitol. Violence & death followed. He must be removed from office immediately.”
We’ll explain what could happen to Trump if impeached, what the timeline could look like now and where the situation stands. This story has been updated with new information.
Trump’s impeachment and 25th Amendment call: What’s happening right now?
Two things are happening in unison: House Democrats are formally calling on Pence to invoke the, while also planning to vote on Trump’s impeachment if the vice president does not respond within 24 hours of receiving the official request.
If the House were to vote in favor of the impeachment article, it would send the indictment to the Senate to trigger Trump’s trial, making him the first president to be impeached twice.
If Trump doesn’t resign — which doesn’t currently appear likely — the impeachment proceedings are expected to begin before. But it is likely it wouldn’t conclude until after Biden becomes president, since the Senate won’t return to session until Jan. 19, the day before Trump’s presidency is scheduled to end. The Senate could return early, but only if all sitting senators unanimously agree. If one objects, the Senate wouldn’t reconvene early.
Impeachment and the 25th Amendment: What’s the difference?
Congress, including Republican Representatives, have also been pushing Pence to invoke the . Unlike impeachment, which is voted on by Congress, the 25th Amendment would require Pence and a majority of Cabinet secretaries to invoke the power. Alternatively, it could also be invoked by the vice president and another body that’s designated by Congress.
To invoke the power, Pence and a majority of sitting Cabinet secretaries must decide that the sitting president is unfit for office. Several cabinet members have resigned in the wake of the attack on the Capitol.
What happens to Trump if he’s impeached and convicted?
If the House votes to impeach this week, it’s essentially indicting the president. The process then moves to the Senate for a trial that’s supervised by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.
Normally, the conviction of a sitting president at such a trial would result in the president being immediately removed from office. The Senate can additionally vote to remove the right to run for a second presidential term or for “any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States,” according to the Constitution (Article 1, Section 3). A president impeached in the Senate may also be disqualified from the benefits given to former presidents in the Post Presidents Act, including a pension and security detail.
With just days left in office, Trump would likely finish out his term (more below) but could still potentially be barred from perks afforded to preceding presidents and prohibited from running for public office, including seeking a second presidential term in 2024 or beyond.
Is it too late to impeach Trump before Biden becomes president?
Yes and no. The impeachment process is set to begin Monday, which would trigger a proceeding defined by the Constitution. However, the rarity of impeachment in US history (only two other presidents have been impeached, and one resigned before impeachment), the extraordinary circumstances of the article against Trump, and the timing so close to Biden’s inauguration raise some questions as to what could happen next, including a potential Senate impeachment trial that would define the first days of Biden’s presidency.
The House could decide to delay sending the indictment to the Senate until after the Biden administration makes headway on Senate approval on Biden’s cabinet nominees and vaccine distribution: Biden has pledged to get 100 millionshots into people’s arms in his first 100 days in office.
“We’ll take the vote that we should take in the House, and [Pelosi] will make the determination as when is the best time to move the articles over to the Senate,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina. “If it just so happens that it didn’t go over there for a 100 days, let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running, and maybe we’ll send the articles some time after that.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday sent a memo to Senate Republicans outlining how a second Trump trial in the Senate would proceed, pegging Jan. 19 as the first date Trump’s impeachment could come up for discussion, the day the upper chamber’s next session begins.
Biden has said it’s up to Congress to decide whether Trump should be impeached.
Trump’s White House criticized the move toward impeachment, saying in a statement Friday that this should be “a time for healing and unity.” The White House said, “A politically motivated impeachment against a president with 12 days remaining in his term will only serve to further divide our great country.”
What does it take to impeach a sitting president?
A president, along with other officers, can be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” according to Section 4 of Article 2 of the US Constitution. To impeach, a total of 216 votes are required from the House of Representatives — a simple majority plus one. A trial is then heard in the Senate, where the US chief justice presides. A full two-thirds of the 100 senators must vote to convict.
Impeaching a president is typically a lengthy process involving months of inquiries and investigations, but House Democrats intend to speed up proceedings and bring the articles of Impeachment to a floor vote.
Here’s the short version of the general procedure:
- The House of Representatives votes on levying impeachment charges against Trump.
- If the the article of impeachment is passed by the House, it presents the article to the Senate, which must hold a trial.
- The House prosecutes, and the Senate sits as jury. The Supreme Court’s chief justice presides.
- Trump has an opportunity to present a defense.
Here are some unknowns:
- Would the Senate agree to reconvene before Jan. 19 for an impeachment trial? (Unlikely, since this can be scuttled by the objection of a single senator; the vote must be unanimous.)
- Would the impeachment process, if begun before inauguration, continue after Trump is no longer president?
- Could Trump attempt to pardon himself from all crimes prior to inauguration?
Wasn’t Trump impeached once already?
Yes. Trump was impeached in December 2019 by the House. However, the Republican-majority, with the process marked by from Trump disparaging the impeachment effort.
His previous impeachment involved articles accusing Trump of abusing power and obstructing Congress. On that occasion, the issue was Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, including a July 2019 phone call in which he appeared to be using US military aid as a bargaining chip to pressure Ukraine into investigating alleged ties between his political opponent Biden, Biden’s son Hunter, and a Ukrainian gas company. The articles also charged Trump with interfering with a House inquiry into the Ukraine matter.
CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt and Rae Hodge contributed to this report.