With impeachment planning intensifying, two Republican senators want President Donald Trump to resign immediately as efforts mount to prevent Mr. Trump from ever again holding elective office in the wake of deadly riots at the Capitol.
House Democrats are expected to introduce articles of impeachment on Monday and vote as soon as Tuesday. The strategy would be to condemn the president’s actions swiftly but delay an impeachment trial in the Senate for 100 days. That would allow President-elect Joe Biden to focus on other priorities as soon as he is inaugurated Jan. 20.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat and a top Biden ally, laid out the ideas Sunday as the country came to grips with the siege at the Capitol by Trump loyalists trying to overturn the election results.
“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” Mr. Clyburn said.
Pressure was mounting for Mr. Trump to leave office even before his term ended amid alarming concerns of more unrest ahead of the inauguration. The president whipped up the mob that stormed the Capitol, sent lawmakers into hiding and left five dead.
Is this America? A breach in peaceful transition of power.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania on Sunday joined Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in calling for Mr. Trump to “resign and go away as soon as possible.”
“I think the president has disqualified himself from ever, certainly, serving in office again,” Mr. Toomey said. “I don’t think he is electable in any way.”
Ms. Murkowski, who has long voiced her exasperation with Mr. Trump’s conduct in office, told the Anchorage Daily News on Friday that Mr. Trump simply “needs to get out.” A third Republican, Sen. Roy Blunt, of Missouri, did not go that far, but on Sunday he warned Mr. Trump to be “very careful” in his final days in office.
Corporate America began to tie its reaction to the Capitol riots by tying them to campaign contributions.
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s CEO and President Kim Keck said it will not contribute to those lawmakers – all Republicans – who supported challenges to Mr. Biden’s Electoral College win. The group “will suspend contributions to those lawmakers who voted to undermine our democracy,” Ms. Kim said.
Citigroup did not single out lawmakers aligned with Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the election, but said it would be pausing all federal political donations for the first three months of the year. Citi’s head of global government affairs, Candi Wolff, said in a Friday memo to employees, “We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law.”
House leaders, furious after the insurrection, appear determined to act against Mr. Trump despite the short timeline.
Late Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., convened a conference call with her leadership team and sent a letter to her colleagues reiterating that Mr. Trump must be held accountable. She told her caucus, now scattered across the country on a two-week recess, to “be prepared to return to Washington this week” but did not say outright that there would be a vote on impeachment.
“It is absolutely essential that those who perpetrated the assault on our democracy be held accountable,” Ms. Pelosi wrote. “There must be a recognition that this desecration was instigated by the President.”
A new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday found that over half of Americans – 56% – believe that Mr. Trump should be removed from office before his term ends. And two-thirds of respondents – 67% – said he deserves a “good amount” or a “great deal” of blame for the rioting last week.
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said an impeachment trial could not begin under the current calendar before Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.
Mr. Clyburn said that Ms. Pelosi “will make the determination as when is the best time” to send articles of impeachment to the Senate if and when they are passed by the House.
Another idea being considered was to have a separate vote that would prevent Mr. Trump from ever holding office again. That could potentially only need a simple majority vote of 51 senators, unlike impeachment, in which two-thirds of the 100-member Senate must support a conviction.
The Senate was set to be split evenly at 50-50, but under Democratic control once Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and the two Democrats who won Georgia’s Senate runoff elections last week are sworn in. Ms. Harris would be the Senate’s tie-breaking vote.
House Democrats were considering two possible packages of votes: one on setting up a commission to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office and one on the impeachment charge of abuse of power.
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who was part of the weekend leadership call, said he expected a “week of action” in the House.
While many have criticized Mr. Trump, Republicans have said that impeachment would be divisive in a time of unity.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said that instead of coming together, Democrats want to “talk about ridiculous things like ‘Let’s impeach a president’” with just days left in office.
Still, some Republicans might be supportive.
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said he would take a look at any articles that the House sent over. Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a frequent Trump critic, said he would “vote the right way” if the matter were put in front of him.
The Democratic effort to stamp Mr. Trump’s presidential record – for the second time – with the indelible mark of impeachment had advanced rapidly since the riot.
Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I, a leader of the House effort to draft impeachment articles accusing Mr. Trump of inciting insurrection, said Sunday that his group had 200-plus co-sponsors.
The articles, if passed by the House, could then be transmitted to the Senate for a trial, with senators acting as jurors to acquit or convict Mr. Trump. If convicted, Mr. Trump would be removed from office and succeeded by the vice president. It would be the first time a U.S. president had been impeached twice.
Potentially complicating Ms. Pelosi’s decision about impeachment was what it meant for Mr. Biden and the beginning of his presidency. While reiterating that he had long viewed Mr. Trump as unfit for office, Mr. Biden on Friday sidestepped a question about impeachment, saying what Congress did “is for them to decide.”
While people close to Mr. Trump said they would certainly prefer he not become the only president in the nation’s history to be impeached a second time, Jason Miller, a close adviser, noted that Mr. Trump’s popularity rose after his first impeachment trial. And he argued that, if they moved forward, Democrats risk turning public sentiment against them and impeding Mr. Biden’s agenda by continuing to focus on Mr. Trump even after he has left the White House.
“As I said to the president this morning, never discount national Democrats’ ability to galvanize the Republican base behind you,” said Mr. Miller, arguing that, if “national Democrats were to go down that path, I think it would boomerang on them very severely.”
“Joe Biden doesn’t want to spend the first 100 days of his presidency having to own a vindictive and overreaching impeachment trial,” he added.
A violent and largely white mob of Trump supporters overpowered police, broke through security lines and windows and rampaged through the Capitol on Wednesday, forcing lawmakers to scatter as they were finalizing Mr. Biden’s victory over Mr. Trump in the Electoral College.
Mr. Toomey appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Mr. Clyburn was on “Fox News Sunday” and CNN. Mr. Kinzinger was on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Blunt was on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” and Mr. Rubio was on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”