House Democrats will make a last-ditch effort to pressure Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment as a way of removing Donald Trump from office before starting an effort to impeach the president for a second time.
The Democratic-controlled House will on Monday attempt to pass a resolution urging Mr Pence to convene the cabinet and activate the 25th amendment, which gives them the authority to strip the president of his power. If there are no objections, the resolution will pass on Monday. If a member of Congress opposes the text, it will be debated and most likely passed on Tuesday.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, told House members late on Sunday that if Mr Pence did not respond to the resolution within 24 hours, the lower chamber of Congress will proceed with impeaching Mr Trump for a second time, on one charge of incitement to insurrection.
“In protecting our Constitution and our democracy, we will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both,” Ms Pelosi wrote in a letter to House Democrats. “As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”
Ms Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, have repeatedly urged Mr Pence, vice-president, to invoke the US constitution’s 25th amendment if Mr Trump does not resign over his role in last week’s siege on Capitol Hill.
Despite reports that Mr Pence is enraged by Mr Trump’s lack of intervention in the riots — which interrupted the counting of electoral college votes to certify that Joe Biden will be the 46th US president — the vice-president has so far signalled no support for using the 25th amendment.
Mr Trump, who was banned from Twitter and a host of other social media platforms at the end of last week, has shown no sign of standing down before Mr Biden’s inauguration on January 20. He is expected to make a trip to the US-Mexico border on Tuesday to tout his record on immigration.
Mr Trump was impeached at the end of 2019, on two charges — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — relating to his efforts to pressure the Ukrainian president into digging up dirt on Mr Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. He was acquitted after a Senate trial. Mitt Romney, the Utah senator and former presidential candidate, was the only Republican who voted to convict the president.
While Mr Trump is likely to be impeached a second time in the Democratic-controlled House, two-thirds of the Senate would need to vote to convict in order to remove him from office.
While a handful of Republican senators have expressed outrage over the president’s actions, more than a dozen would need to sign on to oust Mr Trump.
Democrats last week won two hotly contested Senate run-offs in Georgia, setting the stage for the upper chamber of Congress to be split 50-50, with vice-president Kamala Harris in a position to cast a tiebreaking vote. Ms Harris will be sworn in on January 20 along with Mr Biden.