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Now what happens to Donald Trump?

Tim Darnell, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

Even now, however, it’s unclear enough Republicans would vote to convict, because two-thirds of the Senate is needed. Yet some Republicans have told Trump to resign, including Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Republican Sen. Ben Sasse has said he would take a look at what the House approves but stopped short of committing to support it.

Other Republicans have said that impeachment would be divisive. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, long a key ally of the president, has been critical of his behavior in inciting the riots but said impeachment “will do far more harm than good.”

Only one Republican voted to convict Trump last year, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.

In the wake of the Capitol riot, Democrats’ strategy has been to condemn the president’s actions swiftly but delay an impeachment trial in the Senate for 100 days. U.S. 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,” Clyburn said.

If Trump is impeached and then convicted in a Senate trial, he will become the first former president ever convicted.

 

“The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack,” said U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking GOP House leader. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

In the House, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California, a top Trump ally, suggested a lighter censure instead, but that option crumbled.

The House tried first to push Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to intervene, passing a resolution Tuesday night calling on them to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump from office. The resolution urged Pence to “declare what is obvious to a horrified Nation: That the President is unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of his office.”

Pence made it clear he would not do so, saying in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that it was “time to unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden.”

While some have questioned impeaching the president so close to the end of his term, there is precedent. In 1876, during the Ulysses S. Grant administration, War Secretary William Belknap was impeached by the House the day he resigned, and the Senate convened a trial months later. He was acquitted.

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