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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s non-voting delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives, has introduced a resolution censuring President Donald Trump for his role in inspiring right-wing demonstrators to break into and vandalize offices in the U.S. Capitol Building, as part of a failed effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Norton, who has co-sponsored several impeachment resolutions since the attack on the Capitol, noted in a press release that censure is the only remedy that can pass both chambers of Congress immediately, and, unlike impeachment, will not delay implementation of President-elect Biden’s legislative agenda, and his various cabinet appointments, in the U.S. Senate.
Congress has never previously adopted a bicameral resolution censuring any president, but Norton says Trump’s incitement of insurrection is so serious that it requires an immediate response.
“President Trump is a clear and present danger to the United States and has committed impeachable offenses,” Norton said in a statement. “The Vice President and Cabinet should remove him under the 25th Amendment, and, if not, Congress should remove him from office and bar him from ever holding federal office again.
“However, it is clear that the 25th Amendment will not be invoked and that the Senate will not convict the president after impeachment,” she added. “A censure resolution is the only way to send a bipartisan, bicameral message without delay to the country and the world that the United States is a nation of laws.”
House Democrats have introduced a resolution, authored by U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) calling for Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the president’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment declaring Trump incapable of performing his duties as president.
They are expected to vote on the resolution on Tuesday, after which Pence and the Cabinet will have 24 hours to take action. If no action is taken, Democrats will introduce articles of impeachment, reports USA Today.
“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues. “As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”
Pelosi previously told CBS News’ 60 Minutes that she prefers invoking the 25th Amendment to pursuing a second impeachment, but believes the president must be held accountable.
The articles of impeachment, authored by U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), and Raskin, accuse Trump of inciting insurrection against the U.S. government, leading to a riot at the Capitol building that claimed five lives and injured dozens more.
While any impeachment resolution would likely pass the House with support from Democrats alone, some hope that Republican lawmakers will join them. Once the articles of impeachment pass the House, they then go to the Senate. But that’s where complications arise.
The Senate is out of regular session until Jan. 19, and it would take unanimous consent for the body to return before then — a highly unlikely occurrence.
According to The Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who retains power of the 98-member Senate until Georgia Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff can be sworn in later this month, following certification of the state’s results of two runoff elections — has circulated a memo that appears to undermine the justification for pursuing impeachment.
According to a memo circulated by McConnell, the Senate would receive a message that the House had impeached President Trump, and would give the Senate the option of ordering House managers to present the articles of impeachment the same day.
Senate rules require that the Senate proceed to consideration of impeachment articles on 1 p.m. the day after House managers present their case, meaning that the Senate trial would not begin until one hour after President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.
Norton noted in a press release announcing the censure resolution that the GOP’s reticence to reconvene for pro forma sessions prior to the 19th, and the requirement that all 100 senators must agree to reconvene, makes it nearly impossible to push through impeachment in an expeditious manner.
Additionally, Norton has said that there may be constitutional issues surrounding whether Trump could be impeached retroactively after Biden takes office. As such, she has argued, the censure resolution is the easiest to accomplish, as it would only require an up-or-down vote and could be voted upon on Jan. 19.
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