Republican Party (GOP) lawmakers have been warning the Democrats against launching impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump in the wake of the violent events at the Capitol on 6 January, suggesting the move might be too divisive.
“Impeaching the President with just 12 days left in his term will only divide our country more. I have reached out to President-elect [Joe] Biden today and plan to speak to him about how we must work together to lower the temperature and unite the country to solve America’s challenges,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a Friday statement.
As he called for a smooth transition of power, he emphasized that the coronavirus pandemic was still taking its toll and wreaking havoc on communities and businesses, while outward threats from perceived adversary countries demanded that the nation display unity.
“As leaders, we must call on our better angels and refocus our efforts on working directly for the American people. United we can deliver the peace, strength, and prosperity our country needs. Divided, we will fail,” said McCarthy.
With a short time left until the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden, whose win was officially certified by Congress on Wednesday, a chorus of GOP lawmakers are cited as suggesting that voting to impeach Trump or invoke the 25th Amendment might only serve to ratchet up tensions further.
“I'm opposed to impeachment. I think at this point in time, it's more important to focus on healing and doing a peaceful transition of power as the president himself has conceded where we are and impeachment just inflames those that believe this election has been stolen. And it's time to move forward,” Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) was quoted as saying by The Hill.
Some Republicans reportedly concede that the rhetoric that Donald Trump wielded at the rally on Wednesday that preceded the chaos at the US Capitol may be regarded as an ‘impeachable offense’, yet attempts to outs the POTUS from office now could inflame extremists’ worst instincts.
The GOP lawmakers were cited as urging to take voters’ concerns about the security of elections seriously and seek to build confidence in the democracy.
Capitol Mayhem Triggers Impeachment Calls
Calls to impeach the incumbent president have been voiced in the immediate aftermath of the violent riots in Washington, DC, when thousands of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building. Congress had convened for a joint session on that day to certify the Electoral College vote and officially declare President-elect Joe Biden the winner of the election on 3 November.
The ‘insurrection’ forced the procedure to go into unexpected recess, as the protesters engaged in a standoff with the police, with five people dying in the mayhem.
After the National Guard was deployed and police numbers boosted, order was eventually restored with the House and Senate lawmakers completing the certification of Biden’s win, with the Democrat scheduled to be sworn in on 20 January.
The events have resulted in over 200 members of Congress, almost exclusively Democrats, to call for President Donald Trump to be removed from office, as they accuse him of having ‘incited’ the violence by repeatedly claiming that the election had been ‘stolen’ from him and alleging voter fraud.
These statements had been reiterated by Trump at a rally of his supporters at Ellipse, a park near the White House, on the day of the fateful events that followed. However, at no point did the sitting president explicitly call for violent action.
"… And we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women… And we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong," Trump had said.
Trump had also added “We will never concede. It doesn't happen. You don't concede when there's theft involved."
However, after the events at the Capitol, the sitting president released a prerecorded video address where he
committed himself to an orderly transfer of power to Democrat Joe Biden, saying:
"A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power."
Impeachment or 25th Amendment?
Nevertheless, a group of 197 members of the House and 37 Senators that includes Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, but just one Republican, Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger have been calling for the immediate removal of Donald Trump from office. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) on Friday became the first GOP senator to side with those urging Trump's removal.
Some in the group support Congress impeaching the president, others suggest removing him by invoking the 25th Amendment. There have also been calls for Trump to resign.
House Democrats have already stated they are prepared to move forward with articles of impeachment as early as next week if Vice President Mike Pence does not invoke the 25th Amendment.
Democratic lawmakers Reps. David Cicilline (R.I.), Ted Lieu (Calif.) and Jamie Raskin (Md.) were cited as preparing to introduce new articles of impeachment against Trump as soon as Monday’s pro forma session, addressing both the president’s alleged role in the Capitol riots and his protracted refusal to accept election defeat.
NEWS —> McConnell sends memo to GOP senators outlining how an impeachment trial would work if the House goes thru. In essence, McConnell explains how an impeachment trial would consume the first days of Biden’s presidency. Memo exclusively obtained by WaPo https://t.co/q2f2Quum1Z pic.twitter.com/SAkVVsqPvb— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) January 9, 2021
On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that if Trump does not resign she has directed the Rules Committee to take up a motion to impeach the president as well as legislation to create a commission that can declare that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Earlier, Pelosi suggested House lawmakers would move to impeach the president if Vice President Mike Pence and other cabinet officials refused to invoke the 25th Amendment. The latter is a move reportedly opposed by Pence.
President-elect Joe Biden on Friday declined to take a stance on the issue of impeachment.
"What the Congress decides to do is for them to decide,” said Biden, adding:
"So we're going to do our job, and Congress can decide how to proceed with theirs," he added.
Previously, in December 2019, President Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for abusing power and obstructing Congress amid claims he had pressured Ukraine into investigating the Biden family’s dealings in that country.
However, the Senate acquitted him 52-48 on charges of abuse of power and 53-47 on obstruction of Congress over charges relating to his dealings with Ukraine.