House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said Sunday that the House could take up articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump early this week but that it may delay sending them to the Senate until after President-elect Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office.
Any Senate trial could slow Biden’s ability to pass Covid-19 relief legislation and have his Cabinet officials confirmed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a memo obtained by NBC News that the soonest the Senate could receive the articles of impeachment would be Jan. 19, the eve of Biden’s inauguration, unless a unanimous consent agreement from all 100 senators is passed.
“Yes, I do have concerns,” Clyburn said on CNN’s “State of the Union” when asked about whether impeachment could slow Biden’s agenda. “And so does Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi.”
He added: “Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running, and maybe we will send the articles some time after that.”
House Democrats have moved quickly to begin the impeachment process after a pro-Trump mob stormed and ransacked the Capitol, hoping to prevent the counting of electoral votes that affirmed Biden as the winner of November’s election. The mob stormed the U.S. Capitol moments after Trump spoke to followers at a nearby rally, pushing them to head to Congress after spreading misinformation about Vice President Mike Pence’s authority to stop the count and falsehoods about the election itself.
Video from the riot showed members of the mob chanting “hang Mike Pence.”
On Friday, Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement that the House was prepared to impeach Trump if he did not resign. Even some Republicans have called for Trump’s resignation or removal from office through the 25th Amendment; others have cautioned against a second impeachment.
A draft article of impeachment obtained by NBC News, titled “Incitement of Insurrection,” seeks to ban Trump from running for federal office again.
Clyburn said the House could introduce articles as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., another member of House Democratic leadership, said Sunday on “Meet the Press” that “the assault on the Capitol was a violent insurrection that was incited and encouraged by Donald Trump.” He said Trump is a “clear and present danger to the health and safety of the American people.”
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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said on ABC News’ “This Week” that House Democrats’ “main priority is to ensure the removal of Donald Trump as president of the United States.”
“We’re also talking about complete barring of the president — or, rather, of Donald Trump — from running for office ever again,” she said. “And in addition to that the potential ability to prevent pardoning himself from those charges that he was impeached for.”
Legal experts said a president could be impeached and tried in the Senate after leaving office. To convict the president, Democrats would need significant Republican support to reach the necessary two-thirds vote. Barring him from future office would then require a simple majority vote.
No president has been removed from office through impeachment, nor has the House impeached any president more than once.