New York, Jan 11 (IANS) US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has served a notice to Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet that they should oust President Donald Trump using their constitutional powers within 24 hours or she will begin impeachment proceedings in the fallout from storming of the Capitol by his supporters last week.
She wrote to her Democratic Party Congressional colleagues on Sunday that the House of Representatives will take up a resolution demanding that Pence invoke the Constitution’s 25th Amendment that allows him and a majority of the cabinet to remove Trump by declaring him “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”.
“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” she said.
Pelosi said the resolution would ask the Vice President and the cabinet to declare him “incapable of executing the duties of his office” and then have Pence “immediately exercise powers as acting President”.
The House is not in session Monday and, therefore, it can pass immediately only if no member objects, which is unlikely.
A vote would then have to be taken on Tuesday or Wednesday, when the Democrat-majority House can get back in session, to get it passed.
Pelosi gave Pence 24 hours to respond and warned that if didn’t she would begin impeachment proceedings.
An impeachment, the second for Trump in over a year, seems very likely as Pence has not shown any indication that he would initiate steps to remove him.
Two members of the cabinet, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, resigned from the cabinet last week.
With only nine days left for Trump’s term to end, there is no way for him to be impeached and convicted by the Senate within that time for his ouster.
The impeachment is seen partly symbolic and partly a step to keep Trump from running for office again.
The attack on the Capitol building took place on January 6 while Congress was in session considering the ratification of the electoral college votes electing Joe Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice President.
Before the violence, Trump, who has claimed that their election was invalid because there was massive fraud, told a rally of his supporters before the Congress session began to go there.
A section of his supporters stormed the Capital and invaded the Senate chamber and the offices of the speaker and others, bring the session to a halt and evacuating the legislators to safe places.
Five people, including a police officer, were killed during the riots.
Congress met later and put its seal on the election of Biden and Harris, who will be sworn-in on January 20.
Pelosi and other leaders, including some Republicans, have accused Trump of inciting the mob attack on Congress, imperiling the democratic process.
Biden has declared Trump unfit to continue as president, but has not called for impeaching him citing the tight timeframe.
If there were six months left “we should be doing everything to get him out of office (like) impeaching him again, trying to evoke the 25th Amendment”, but now he said he was focused on getting “our agenda moving as quickly as we can”.
An impeachment is only the framing of charges of by the House, which can be rushed through by the Democrat-controlled body. But Trump will have to be put on trial before the Senate in a judicial-style procedure with the Senators acting as jurors.
One of the reasons Biden does not back an impeachment is because he will have to get his cabinet members approved by the Senate quickly and if it is caught up in holding the trial after the impeachment when it reconvenes on January 19 the confirmation of his nominees will be held up.
The Democratic Party’s whip in the House, James Clyburn, left the timeline open while speaking during a CNN program on Sunday.
He said the impeachment could take place at a later date after giving Biden time to get his administration off the ground.
Pelosi has asked the top military leader, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, about steps to prevent Trump from accessing the code for launching nuclear weapons or starting new conflicts.
Trump was impeached in 2019, but he was acquitted by the Senate which had a Republican majority.
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)