In private, Trump has tried to justify his actions, saying he wanted only to encourage a large protest — not for his supporters to storm the Capitol in the worst breach of its security since the War of 1812.
WASHINGTON D.C. (The Washington Post) – Multiple voices, from political and civil life, have united with the same thing in common. Get Trump out of the White House. At this point, a fall from grace Trump faces the pressure for his immediate ouster after he incited Wednesday’s violent siege at the Capitol — an increasingly louder drumbeat chastising the actions that threaten not only to prematurely end his waning tenure but to put him in legal jeopardy once he leaves office.
In Congress, a growing cadre of House Democrats is pushing to rapidly impeach Trump a second time before he is scheduled to leave office on Jan. 20. They are preparing to introduce articles charging him with inciting an insurrection and having “gravely endangered the United States’ security” and its institutions.
In public, Trump has come as close as he is likely to get to admitting he lost the election, acknowledging that there will be a transfer of power and confirming Friday that he will not attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. But in private, the president has tried to justify his actions, saying he wanted only to encourage a large protest that would garner news coverage and rattle Congress members — not for his supporters to storm the Capitol in the worst breach of its security since the War of 1812.
According to a person familiar with the conversations, legal advisers to the president and his allies expressed increasing concern Friday about possible criminal liability in the wake of Wednesday’s melee. Attorneys have told Trump that he could face legal jeopardy for inciting a mob. He has responded that it was never his intent to do so, according to a close adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose internal discussions surrounding the president.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans who refused to evict Trump from office last year are rapidly turning against him — vouching to consider impeachment charges the House may send and, in the case of one prominent senator, demanding his immediate resignation. “I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News published Friday. “He’s either been golfing, or he’s been inside the Oval Office fuming and throwing every single person who has been loyal and faithful to him under the bus, starting with the vice president.”
Removing Trump by the one means available to Congress is a tall order in the days remaining in his presidency. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has not made a formal determination to move forward with a second impeachment, even as she consulted Friday with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about curbing Trump’s ability to launch nuclear weapons. The Democratic-controlled House previously impeached Trump. The GOP-controlled Senate later acquitted him.
In a letter to Democratic lawmakers, Pelosi described speaking to the Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Mark A. Milley, “to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.” She further described Trump as “unhinged” and said lawmakers “must do everything that we can” to protect the nation from him.
In a statement Friday evening, Pelosi reiterated that she and other House Democrats hope Trump will resign. But if he doesn’t, the House will move forward with legislation drafted by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) that will create a commission on presidential disabilities to prepare for action under the 25th Amendment, as well as a motion for impeachment. “With great respect, our deliberations will continue,” she said.
Outrage over Wednesday’s events has grown to the point that it could be impossible for Pelosi and other leaders in the party to ignore, prompting a vote as soon as early next week, according to House Democratic members’ interviews aides.
House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) said in an MSNBC interview after the conference call Friday that “the sentiment of the caucus is moving” toward impeachment: “The American people have seen enough, and they are ready for us to do the job of impeaching this man.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been personally involved in discussions about invoking the 25th Amendment, a constitutional provision that provides procedures for removing a president. But he is unlikely to pursue the option, which can be invoked by the vice president and half the Cabinet, according to three people aware of the treasury secretary’s remarks.
No Republican House members have indicated that they would back impeachment, and the top House Republican, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), warned Democrats against proceeding.
While House Democrats could impeach Trump on their own, removing him would require a two-thirds vote of the Senate — meaning 17 Republicans would have to join with the 50 Democrats who will be seated once Sens.-elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are certified as the winners of Tuesday’s Georgia runoffs.
Senate impeachment trials are governed by a complex and lengthy set of procedures that could be difficult to waive. Trump’s first impeachment trial, which concluded in February, lasted 20 days.
Trump could still be impeached after he leaves office, most constitutional scholars say, which would affect him from the presidency again.
But there is a political barrier to proceeding with a Senate trial: Biden’s impending inauguration and his need to confirm a Cabinet rapidly. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made that case in a memo circulated among GOP colleagues late Friday that outlined how it would be virtually impossible for the Senate to take up impeachment articles before Jan. 19.
Trump tweeted Friday that he would not be present for Biden’s inauguration and, in a separate tweet, vowed that his political movement would continue. “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future,” he tweeted. “They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape, or form!!!” Twitter permanently banned Trump’s account later Friday, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.”
But on Friday, there was also increased discussion of the potential liability the president and others could face following the death of a federal officer during the riot at the Capitol. Federal and local law enforcement agencies seek to question protesters about whether they stormed the Capitol because the president and top allies directed them to do so, according to people familiar with the discussions.
In D. C. Karl A. Racine, in a Friday interview on “Good Morning America,” Attorney General asked that anyone with information about the “mobsters” who assaulted the Capitol call his office and the federal prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office. “Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and even the president of the United States were calling on their supporters and hate groups to go to the Capitol and, in Rudy Giuliani’s words, exercise combat justice.” He said in the interview. “We’re going to investigate not only those mobsters but those who incited the violence.” Promised.
Federal and D.C. laws make it illegal to “incite a riot” or “incite violence.” Compounding the matter further, experts said, a Capitol Police officer was killed in the insurrection. “The death of a federal law enforcement officer changes everything,” said Steve Ryan, a defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor. “It is possible that those who invaded the Capitol thinking they might get a minor misdemeanor are now theoretically subject to murder and felony murder charges.”
Trump has discussed pardoning himself, but no formal papers have been drawn up, according to a person familiar with the matter, and he has given no orders to draw them up. Another close adviser to Trump said there were also discussions about preemptive pardons for top White House aides who have been in the most immediate proximity to the president.
Various legal experts believe the president cannot pardon himself. A conservative former federal judge, J. Michael Luttig, wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece last month that Trump cannot do so. A self-pardon, he wrote, “would grievously offend the animating constitutional principle that no man, not even the president, is above and beyond the law.”