Moves are under way by Democrats in Congress to impeach Donald Trump for a historic second time, amid fears of the “unhinged” president having access to the nuclear codes.
In the wake of the violent siege of the US Capitol by Trump supporters that left five dead, opponents are seeking his immediate removal from office, declaring him “unstable”.
With less than two weeks before he is due to leave the White House, there are also those within Mr Trump’s own Republican Party who want to see him gone sooner.
On a private conference call with Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “We must take action.”
Prominent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also told the Anchorage Daily News that Mr Trump “needs to get out”.
As well as being shunned by allies, the president has also had his main means of communications taken away after Twitter permanently suspended his personal account.
Having persisted in refusing to concede defeat in the November election, Mr Trump has now promised a smooth transfer of power when Democratic president-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on 20 January.
However, he says he will not attend the inauguration – the first such presidential snub since just after the Civil War.
Mr Biden welcomed this as “a good thing”, branding the president an “embarrassment” to the nation and unworthy of the office.
In the meantime, Ms Pelosi said she had spoken to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, “to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes” for nuclear war.
She said Gen Milley assured her long-standing safeguards were in place.
The president has sole authority to order the launch of a nuclear weapon, but a military commander could refuse the order if it were determined to be illegal.
Although Mr Trump has not publicly made such threats, there are concerns they he might if he is left unchecked.
“This unhinged president could not be more dangerous,” Ms Pelosi said.
It is understood that a Democrat draft of their articles of impeachment accuses Mr Trump of abuse of power, saying he “wilfully made statements that encouraged – and foreseeably resulted in – imminent lawless action at the Capitol”.
The articles are expected to be introduced on Monday, with a House vote as soon as Wednesday.
If Mr Trump were to be impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate, he might also be prevented from running again for the presidency in 2024 or ever holding public office again.
He would be the only US president to be impeached twice.
However Mr Trump’s spokesman Judd Deere said: “A politically motivated impeachment against a president with 12 days remaining in his term will only serve to further divide our great country.”
The soonest the Senate could begin an impeachment trial under the current calendar would be 20 January, Inauguration Day.
Conviction in the Republican Senate at such a late stage may also seem unlikely.
A Trump ally, Republican Minority Leader Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, also spoke up, saying that impeaching the president at this point “will only divide our country more”.
Mr McCarthy said he planned to speak with Mr Biden about working together to “lower the temperature”.
But Ms Murkowski said: “I want him out. He has caused enough damage.”
Another leading Republican critic of Mr Trump, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, said he would “definitely consider” impeachment.
Subscribe to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
Responding to the question about whether there’s any point in impeaching a president who has only a few days left in office, independent senator and one-time presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said: “The answer: Precedent. It must be made clear that no president, now or in the future, can lead an insurrection against the US government.”
Ms Pelosi and Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer have called on vice president Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to force Mr Trump from office – but this is very unlikely.
Source: Read Full Article